Quick Takes: The Trump Administration’s Idolization of the Military

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* Masha Gessen suggests that we are witnessing the makings of a military coup.

Consider this nightmare scenario: a military coup. You don’t have to strain your imagination—all you have to do is watch Thursday’s White House press briefing, in which the chief of staff, John Kelly, defended President Trump’s phone call to a military widow, Myeshia Johnson. The press briefing could serve as a preview of what a military coup in this country would look like, for it was in the logic of such a coup that Kelly advanced his four arguments.

Argument 1. Those who criticize the President don’t know what they’re talking about because they haven’t served in the military…

2. The President did the right thing because he did exactly what his general told him to do…

3. Communication between the President and a military widow is no one’s business but theirs…

4. Citizens are ranked based on their proximity to dying for their country.

* Argument #1 got a boost from Sarah Huckabee Sanders this afternoon.

The White House on Friday told a journalist who asked about errors chief of staff John Kelly made Thursday that it would be “highly inappropriate” to “get into a debate with a four-star Marine general.”

The militaristic language, used to refer to the civilian position in the White House occupied by the retired Marine general, came when the reporter pointed out that Kelly had inaccurately accused a congresswoman of claiming credit for securing funding for an FBI building in Miramar, Florida in 2015…

“If you want to go after Gen. Kelly, that’s up to you,” Sanders said. “But I think that, if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”

* Here’s another Trump Cabinet member who is lying for his boss:

CIA Director Mike Pompeo incorrectly asserted Thursday that U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia’s interference campaign did not affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

“We conducted an election that had integrity,” Pompeo, a former Republican member of Congress from Kansas, said during a public event in response to a question from NBC News. “And yes, the intelligence community’s assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election.”

This is what the intelligence community actually said:

“We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The US Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinion.”

* ProPublica has done some in-depth reporting on a racist, white, violent hate group known as the Rise Above Movement (RAM).

* Cass Sunstein writes that “Russia Is Using Marxist Strategies, and So Is Trump.”

Karl Marx and his followers argued that revolutionaries should disrupt capitalist societies by “heightening the contradictions.” Russia used a version of that Marxist idea in its efforts to disrupt the 2016 presidential campaign. It should come as no surprise that the most powerful nation from the former Soviet Union, whose leaders were schooled in the Marxist tradition, is borrowing directly from that tradition in its efforts today.

What is more surprising, and far more important for American politics, is that President Donald Trump is drawn to a similar strategy.

* Here’s the latest from Gallup:

The percentage of U.S. adults lacking health insurance rose in the third quarter of 2017 to 12.3%, up 0.6 percentage points from the previous quarter and 1.4 points since the end of 2016. The uninsured rate is now the highest recorded since the last quarter of 2014 when it was 12.9%.

* Finally, this Friday I’d like to go out on a totally non-political note. Last weekend when I was running errands, I heard this on my car radio. All I’ll say by way of introduction is that Rachael Price (who is the lead singer for Lake Street Dive) has an amazing set of pipes!

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.