Our corrupt, disloyal, dishonest, and illegitimate President-elect

The CIA says the Russian government deliberately threw the election to Donald Trump. Hacking the Podesta emails was only part of it.

Those of us who said so at the time were told we were “paranoid” and “McCarthyist.”

The Russians also hacked Republicans, but somehow those files never leaked.

In response, the Trump campaign issued a three-sentence statement:

These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.

That’s two flat-out lies – the campaign ended a month ago and Trump’s EC margin ranks well below the historical average (21st out of the past 25 results) – and an utterly unjustified slam at the intelligence community, which was much more cautious on the WMD story that the Bush White House.

Trump is not honest, not competent, only marginally sane, and in cahoots with a hostile authoritarian foreign regime. He will occupy the White House and hold the legal powers of the Presidency. But he deserves none of the respect, deference, and presumption of goodwill that we conventionally accord a legitimately elected President (and which his Republican allies so spectacularly denied to President Obama). Trump cheated his way to the Presidency, and the rest of us owe him nothing but contempt. We owe our country sustained and implacable resistance to everything he tries to do.


Yes, I know Trump won’t actually be President-elect until December 19, and that if the Electors did their originally-intended job by rejecting a candidate committed to violating the Constitution from Day One he never would be. But they won’t, and he will, and the rest of us need to deal with it.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

29 thoughts on “Our corrupt, disloyal, dishonest, and illegitimate President-elect”

  1. I think you need to keep your eyes on the prize. Will obdurate resistance succeed, and bring the policy results you want? At this point, Trump is in a honeymoon, putting up names for posts and getting submission from Romney, Christie, etc. The Dems don't have the votes to stop him. Looks nearly certain that the Rooskies tried to interfere in the election, but there was an oped from Hillary campaign worker Diane Hessan in the Boston Globe about her ongoing interviews with undecideds in the runup (and which I put up as a comment on the Nov 25 Dem Errors post, but that's pretty much gone dormant now), which suggests that their efforts may not have done much, here is a quote: "Last week, I reread all of my notes. There was one moment when I saw more undecided voters shift to Trump than any other, when it all changed, when voters began to speak differently about their choice. It wasn’t FBI Director James Comey, Part One or Part Two; it wasn’t Benghazi or the e-mails or Bill Clinton’s visit with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the tarmac. No, the conversation shifted the most during the weekend of Sept. 9, after Clinton said, “You can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”

    All hell broke loose. George told me that his neighborhood was outraged, that many of his hard-working, church-going, family-loving friends resented being called that name. He told me that he looked up the word in the dictionary, and that it meant something so bad that there is no hope, like the aftermath of a tsunami. You know, he said, Clinton ended up being the biggest bully of them all. Whereas Trump bullied her, she bullied Wilkes Barre.

    Things were not the same after that, at least with my voters. I remember wondering whether that moment was like Romney’s 47 percent: a comment during a fund-raiser from which the candidate would never recover, proof that, like Romney, Clinton was an out-of-touch rich person who didn’t really get it."

    This election was a close-run thing, which could have gone either way. That a candidate with Trump's manifest defects won it is staggering evidence of the anger and rejection directed at the eloi in our towers from the left-behind morlocks in Wilkes-Barre. And the rest of the election went hugely Reep as well – look at the governorships and the Senate and the House. I don't think that making a great show of resistance towards this guy is the way for the Dems to get the red states back. There should be a huge 'do not sneer at the proles' reeducation effort throughout the left.

    1. I will, once again, point out that Clinton's comment, while perhaps impolitic, was entirely correct. There absolutely is a large section of Trump voters who are deplorable. Beyond that, this response demonstrates that their commitment to someone who rejects "political correctness" is extremely selective; doing so is fine just so long as it is marshaled against people other than themselves.

      How anyone can look at this election campaign and declare that it is somehow Clinton that was at fault for insulting those who voted for her opponent is beyond me. My default assumption is that anyone who makes that claim is not arguing in good faith.

      1. "..at fault for insulting those who voted for her opponent is beyond me…" That's not what Diane Hessan said. She said something more like '..at fault for insulting those who were deciding whether to vote for her or for her opponent..' Still seems right to me.

        1. Of course, that means blaming Clinton for saying something that she didn't actually say.

          1. How do you interpret "Clinton said, “You can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”"? Just wondering.

          2. For one thing, it is directed at people who are actually supporting Trump, not those who were undecided.

          3. This is a really remarkable conversation. You seem adamant that Hillary Clinton has done no wrong. Let's remember that she lost the election to the most disliked and arguably least qualified candidate in my lifetime. Mark Kleiman seems to hope that the Rooskies did it, okay. And you are parsing at whom this remark was directed, when we have the testimony of a Clinton loyalist that the remark harmed her very badly with the very undecideds she most desperately needed, and who clearly felt insulted.
            One of my fave Upton Sinclair remarks is 'It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.' Maybe that's where I should look to understand this: does your salary somehow depend on not finding any fault with Hillary Clinton?

          4. Let me try again, because this wasn't intended as a defense of Clinton. I'm not saying that the comment didn't hurt her; I honestly don't know one way or the other. What I'm saying is that, in the context of this election, I can't really respect anyone with whom it did hurt her. Anyone who could be so offended by a single sentence that wasn't directed at all Trump supporters or at undecideds in any way, and therefore decide to support someone who insulted many groups relentlessly is, at best, a thin-skinned hypocrite.

            It is a case of Trump supporters being perfectly okay with racism and misogyny, just so long as it's directed at anyone else. They can't take any criticism of themselves, or people that they have decided to associate with. My basic conclusion is that anyone who falls into this category was really just searching for a reason to vote for Trump rather than being genuinely undecided.

            And I don't have a whole lot more use for those who keep arguing that we need to be exquisitely sensitive to the feelings of people who have demonstrated that they are perfectly okay with open bigotry on the part of those they would vote for.

          5. I am reminded of my old ma, who regularly said, 'you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar'. But, if you like dispensing vinegar, suit yourself.

          6. You know, it's not actually true that you catch more flies with honey. But you definitely catch more with shit.

          7. 1) I don't believe that there are very many of these people that are persuadable at all;

            2) Trying too much honey to win them over runs a big risk of demoralizing and alienating the allies who have been the target of the hate spewed by Trump and the deplorable set of the people that support him. What we are witnessing is an insistence that their feelings be handled so very delicately, and there are plenty of people who are becoming justifiably outraged that white people need to be coddled while they themselves are a target of hatred.

            There comes a point where it is not tenable to avoid returning fire, and we are at that point. If there are a set of people who are going to be so offended by what was a very mild comment, all the while vehemently supporting the police every time a cop kills a black person no matter the circumstances and accusing those among of us of wanting to kill us, they are not, in any suitable way, reachable. If we do, then the accusations that we take the support of people of color for granted and expect them to stick with us no matter how much we try to compromise on the things important to them become true.

          8. Poli Sci literature backs you up on the notion that a lot of undecideds aren't really undecided, or if they are, it's between one candidate and not voting at all.

      2. @J_Michael: Clinton's comment, while correct, was stupidly, outrageously, and certainly disastrously, "impolitic." That, BTW, would not be my choice of words.

        Why use good strong adjectives like stupid and disastrous, only to make them into adverbs just to modify a namby-pamby adjective like "impolitic?"

        From the moment you decide to run for President, assuming you are trying to win (i.e., you're not Jill Stein) EVERYTHING you say and do must be chosen with that objective in mind. You're not trying to show how smart you are. You're not trying to prove a point. You're trying to get more votes and especially to win votes away from your opponent.

        "Gosh, I'm deplorable? I guess I better change to Hillary. Then I won't be deplorable." Yeah, that's a good way to win them over.

        How'd that work out???

        1. She was talking about Trump supporters. Why would they switch to vote for Hillary? How soon people forget just how many objectively deplorable things Trump himself, as well as many of his supporters were saying this campaign.

          Honestly, I think you could as easily make a case that Hillary speaking the truth about a huge number of Trump supporters was effective in both turning out her supporters, and reminding non-Trump supporters how vile he was.

        2. A majority of Trump supporters subscribe to the racist notion that Barack Obama is not an American citizen and thus not a legitimate president. Just how long do you think Democrats can go with not calling out that sort of bigotry before African-Amercians become demoralized and alienated? Or all of the other racist nonsense that both Trump and his supporters peddled?

          I will reiterate: what you are calling for is treating white people with total delicacy and not calling them on being offensive when they are. And that will not fly.

          1. @Eli and J_Michael: No. NoNoNo. I am NOT calling for treating offensive people (Trump's racist supporters) with total delicacy.

            What I AM calling for is focusing on the candidate and his racism, instead of making ad hominem attacks on some of the voters. It doesn't matter whether those attacks are accurate. It's the candidate who needs to be attacked.

            And Eli–no, I;m not saying Hillary could have won over some of those racists by being nice to them. What I'm saying is that she probably lost some of the two or three percent who were truly undecided by making an ad hominem attack on folks who were not running for anything. Geez, look at me, using an educated term like ad hominem. What she did was NAME CALLING! …of the VOTERS, not the candidate. What the heck is that doing in a Presidential campaign?

            Hillary's gaffe reached a new peak, in my 64 year memory of Presidential elections, for the term "tone deaf."

          2. " No. NoNoNo. I am NOT calling for treating offensive people (Trump's racist supporters) with total delicacy. "

            And then, in your next two paragraphs, you call for exactly that.

    2. "The Dems don't have the votes to stop him." That's not all that goes on in a hearing. Elizabeth Warren didn't fire the CEO of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf, in the Senate hearing; but he quit soon after, with reputation shattered. Trump's nominees are a target rich environment.
      – Pruitt and the letter to the EPA he signed written entirely by a lobbyist;
      – Puzder's earlier criticism of Trump's wall (as a fast-food CEO he was for cheap immigrants), and remarks in favour of replacing workers by robots:
      – Mnuchin's foreclosure on the 90-year-old Florida woman for a 37 cent debt;
      – and Ben Carson, who has absolutely no qualifications for HUD.

      I assume Schumer is planning the inquisitions and Democratic Senate aides are spending weekends on oppo research. Two of the Dem freshmen, Harris and Cortez, are former state AGs: professional prosecutors, itching to show their stuff on the national stage. They should be able to claim a couple of scalps. Blow comity, most of these people are unqualified fanatics or business cronies and do not deserve better treatment than Mafia capos.

      I wonder if fear of the inevitable confirmation assault on his lobbying for foreign governments lay behind Giuliani's decision to withdraw from consideration for Secretary of State.

      PS, update: I hear at LGM that hearings are customary, not formally required. So watch out for attempts by NcConnell to throw away yet another part of the informal constitution and go straight to floor votes on every nominee.

  2. "Eloi," "morlocks"? It's easy to buy the narrative that Trump voters were the hard-working salt-of-the-earth, while Dems got the professorial, latte-sipping, designer-clothing-wearing elites. (Does anyone who uses that stereotype have any idea what universities actually pay?) In fact, Trump voters were generally better off than most Americans. And claiming that Hillary voters were "elites" makes invisible the majority of hard-working low-income people who supported her. And these are the people who fall into the category of the proles, if that's the terminology we want to use.

    I said above it was easy to buy into that narrative. It's also deceptive and dangerous. Why should Democrats let Trump's people define them as something they're not?

    First step is to lose the stereotypes and look at the actual data on the demographics.

  3. Two things here. One, the U.S. constantly tries to influence elections around the world, and if their boy doesn't win, they stage a coup. So Russia was trying to influence an election here? What is so surprising about that? That's Russia's job! I can't imagine they haven't tried to do so, in one form or another, since 1948. Secondly, nobody's claiming that the leaked e-mails were fake. So if Russia is acting like Assange or Snowden or Chelsea Manning, well, it simply means that they're giving us some fresh air of transparency, and that the DCCC and Podesta were being assholes and got caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm appalled at the prospect of a Trump regency, and I think Secretary Clinton would have made a fine president., but the subtext here, that the Kremlin stole the presidency, is fairly close to codswallop. A fat ole buttload of racists in Florida and Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and Iowa gave the presidency to a shitstain, whom they KNEW was a shitstain, but who publicly professed his racism in a way they approved of. Russia had nothing to do with it.

    Racism won this election, and any other analysis is ignoring the elephant in the living room.

    1. If we agree with your analysis, and actually I do not, the fact still is that Russia committed an action of aggression against the United States that would have warranted a massive response, short of a shooting war, up until now. Now, apparently, Russia can f*ck about in American politics as much as it likes, and the man who said he was going to "make America great again" is just loving it. If America was about to be all that great, would a second rank power like Russia be messing with it?

  4. As a social scientist, I must admit that I am getting a little tired of the ______________ caused the election result takes. The academic literature on voter decisionmaking suggests we could hypothesize easily a dozen contributing factors, and, critically, there is literally no way of knowing what would happen if you could manipulate one of these factors, because they aren't independent of one another.

    Of course, the Russian interference is disturbing even if you don't think it was decisive with regard to the election outcome — particularly if, as appears to be the case, it was intentionally done to benefit one candidate at the expense of the other. Yes, I am sure they have tried before. The difference is that this time it clearly had an effect, even if it may not have been a decisive effect. And yes, the U.S. has done this to other countries before, but that strikes me as entirely irrelevant to the question of whether Russian interference in our election should trouble us.

  5. Trump and Putin are buddies now, a situation which will last until one of them pisses the other one off. Russia has information on Trump which they can leak (through WikiLeaks if need be) when it suits their purposes to mess him up but good. They know all about his business dealings over the years because they have the receipts. Trump enters office with a sword of Damocles hanging over his head. Russia will play ball with him as long as he plays ball with them. They have a certain amount of leverage because they have information which was probably on the tax returns he so carefully withheld from the public during the campaign.

    In other words, the Russians may well have the President of the United States by the balls. How does that work for us?

    1. So, pretty much the same deal J. Edger Hoover had with six presidents? Yawn. Trump is The Manchurian Candidate for the American Oligarchy, not the Russkies.

      1. Someone asked Lyndon Johnson why in God's name he was keeping J. Edgar – Johnson said he would rather have Hoover in the tent, pissing out, than outside the tent, pissing in.

      2. DaveSchutz, reminding us of LBJ's famous statement of Hoover, said what I was about to say. Putin is decidedly outside the tent, and it is likely a matter of time before he decides to piss in. I agree that Trump is the Manchurian Candidate of the American oligarchs, but there is a new element when a foreign power knows the kinds of thing about an American president that J. Edger Hoover knew. And those presidents did play ball with Hoover. This is the kind of thing that keeps me awake rather than causing me to yawn.

      3. Your yawn is puzzling. The fact that something has happened before–and was heinous at the time–doesn't mean it's not heinous now. If a foreign power bombed an American harbor, sinking several ships, I don't think the right response would be "Meh. Been there, done that–Pearl Harbor, you know." (Or if the U.S. government considered setting up a registry of people of a certain religion or ethnicity, or started requiring loyalty oaths as a condition of employment in non-governmental jobs, . . . )

        Relatedly, I find it disturbing that so many in the news business seem to treat events this way. If a precedent can be found, whatever-it-is becomes "old news" and worthy of little, if any, comment instead of a warning to be learned from. (And yes, I partially quoted Gingrich there.)

  6. When I posted a link (on FB) to the WaPo story about this, I led into it this way:

    "As little use as I have in general for the CIA, this is an extremely disturbing report. It seems clear now that Russia did try to influence the outcome of the presidential election–covertly, of course–and the result is the result they wanted. This does not mean that Russia's interference with the election was enough to swing the outcome; I don't think we will ever know that with certainty. But what Russia–which means Putin–did was a hostile act, and means we have to treat Russia as hostile to the US."

  7. Why are commenters sliding past Mark's radical claim that Trump will be an illegitimate President? Clinton is history.

    A useful word here is usurper. The usurper of a throne, like Henry Bolingbroke, usually has some paper claim to it. It's just that the legitimate king or queen has a better one.

    Mark is proposing that progressives turn Jacobite, and resist the usurper by all proper means. "Proper" here is not IMHO limited to "lawful". Resistance by states and cities has to be within the law. It looks as if California will go the limit. For citizens, civil disobedience when fundamental rights and values are being violated has to be on the cards. One obvious and easily damaged target is Trump's business pocket empire. I'm not an American and can't give Americans advice on what risks they are prepared to take. These will vary greatly depending on the complexion of the state government. Sessions will not be on the side of protestors in Selma, and they could easily get beaten up, even killed.

    Trump is not yet President, and has already caused two diplomatic crises with China and Iran. These and other countries may decide that Trump does not deserve respect. Yitzhak Shamir was invited by Thatcher to London, but he didn't get to shake hands with the Queen. Much cruder snubs are coming. Xi could invite Jerry Brown for an official, not-quite-state, visit.

    Donald Trump might remember that the rulers of these countries are dangerous men, whose ideology permits assassination as a political tool in case of necessity. The Secret Service does an excellent job in protecting Presidents from armed civilians, but it could not protect a man who has a deep need for public adulation from a professional attempt with the resources of a state. The difficulty is less the kill but the absolute necessity of deflecting the blame for an act of war on to a third party.

    The grounds for holding Trump an usurper are narrow, and given by Mark. We know that the Russian secret service interfered in the election in his favour. The director of the FBI irregularly released information on an ongoing investigation calculated to damage Clinton's candidacy. Trump is refusing to divest himself of his bushinesses, creating a massive standing conflict of interest in domestic and foreign policy, contary to the spirit and intent of the Emoluments Clause. Those are, I think, the three grounds. Holding atrocious views (from a progressive, reality-based perspective) on climate change, civil rights, immigration and many other matters does not disqualify. Does repeated sexual assault? Absent a criminal conviction, no. Does the prospect of massive corruption? It hasn't happened yet, so no. Lying all the time on the campaign trail, and still doing it? No.

    However, Mark is right that once you deny the legitimacy of Trump's Presidency on narrow grounds, you are duty bound to oppose his actions across the board. Either George of Hanover is the rightful king or Charles Edward Stuart, there's no middle way.

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