We learned this morning that there has been a dramatic nationwide and worldwide surge in cases of measles, a disease thought to have been eradicated only a few years ago, due directly to sophisticated anti-vaccination social media campaigns conducted by Russian internet troll factories.
We're about to learn in even greater detail the extent and success of internet disinformation and disruption campaigns by foreign adversaries to interfere in our elections and sow discord and division within American society and that those efforts are not only ongoing but accelerating.
We are also increasingly aware that the Trump regime is facilitating and exploiting this turmoil for entirely political purposes.
Given this, it's not difficult to understand how the broad majority of American people could become gripped by either avoidance or a sense of malaise, foreboding and helplessness.
Back in January, which now seems a long time ago, the issue was whether America's adversaries would exploit the inherent weakness of a partial government shutdown to attack America's vital interests.
But today, with the shutdown barely a memory amid out collective "outrage fatigue", the risk of America's vulnerability during the incoherent chaos of the Trump regime and the ongoing efforts at home and abroad to divide and enrage American society, perhaps the question is once again worth asking...
Is It Time For A National
Day Of Resistance?
"The fear is our enemies know they can run freely."
"A strike is to labor relations what a war is to politics,
a complete breakdown of the system
- and everybody loses."
By Ray Cunneff
January 22, 2019
I've believed that axiom, from personal experience, for many years. But no longer. Not now.
As a member of the Writers Guild of America, I went through three devastating (for different reasons) strikes in my first ten years of active membership.
The most damaging for me was the 1988 strike against the producer's alliance that lasted seven months and, as co-chair (along with Mike Hoey) of the Strike Committee, branded me a "militant writer" - which didn't do my career any good.
And while other Writers Guild strikes may not have lasted as long, they were nonetheless damaging in terms of compensation, particularly the loss of what were then called "videocasette royalties" in an earlier strike in 1981 which set an unfortunate precedent for DVD and other residuals in the years that followed.
The '88 strike also had the unforeseen consequence of spurring the rise of "reality TV". (I won't go so far as blaming the strike for Donald Trump, but it's a case that could be made in an abstract sort of way.)
* * *
But having said all that, I'm beginning to feel that the in every way "unprecedented" Trump presidency, amid the mounting concern that Trump is using his partial government shutdown, on the backs of federal workers, associated businesses and the overall economy, as a ploy to re-structure our democratic institutions and consolidate dictatorial power. His entirely unnecessary shutdown, now in its 32nd day, an artificial solution to an artificial crisis, may soon reach a critical mass that calls for unprecedented action.
David Leonhardt's op-ed in The New York Times yesterday pointed out the inherent weakness in the Trump "resistance movement", that millions of people aren't in the streets demanding an end to the shutdown and a return to some kind of orderly governance instead of chaos, corruption and cruelty.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
But the real and even more immediate danger of the Trump shutdown, one that has the potential to mobilize millions, is the clear, present and imminent threat to national security. On MSNBC's "Deadline: White House" with Nicolle Wallace, former Assistant FBI Director Frank Figliuzzi told a story about, when as a young agent, he saw a sign on the back of his boss's door that read: "America is at peace because the FBI is at war".
Wallace said of Trump's shutdown, "If he wanted to end the Russia investigation, this was a diabolical way to do it. The self-proclaimed law and order president has effectively brought the wheels of justice to a grinding halt with his self-created, self-perpetrated government shutdown.”
A 72-page report released today by the FBI Agents Association, which represents more than 14,000 active and former FBI special agents, quotes multiple inside sources that the government shutdown has "eliminated any ability to operate." Another said the job has "never been so hard or thankless", another said agents cannot "protect and serve the American people." The report stated that, “the U.S. Attorney’s office is unable to issue grand jury subpoenas for financial institutions".
An agent working on counter-intelligence matters against high-level threats to U.S. national security is quoted, "It’s bad enough to work without pay, but we can only conduct administrative functions while doing it. The fear is our enemies know they can run freely."
Nicolle Wallace and Frank Figliuzzi (screengrabs)
Figliuzzi added, “It’s the FBI’s job to counter the greatest threats facing America, but now what’s possible is the greatest threat of all is coming from the Oval Office and our president — it’s an insider threat”.
There is real fear among Intelligence professionals that our enemies will exploit this apparent weakness to attack our cities, our power grid, our food or water supply, our satellites, our rail, air or highway infrastructure. Worst-case scenario: a tactical nuclear/EMP attack designed to cripple retaliation and settle all scores.
Figliuzzi concluded, “There are champagne corks being popped back in the Kremlin right now, because they couldn’t have engineered a better scenario than a demoralized FBI that can’t pay its bills, can’t pay informants and, yes, the leadership is responsible for this... that’s a reflection of the degree to which our president is putting self-interest over national interest.”
All of this brings us back to the rhetorical question, "Is it time for a National Day of Resistance?", a general strike in which a substantial portion of the population simply stops all activities - no work, no school, no purchases, no deliveries, no transactions - occur for one pre-determined day, and millions take it to the streets as a show of political will and the economic power of the people to demand government that represents their interests as opposed to the interests of the powerful oligarchs, corporatists and theocrats.
It would be the strongest possible statement of a peaceful public demand that government put the people's and the nation's security, safety and general welfare as its highest priority and responsibility.
It could also mark the beginning of the end of the Trump/Pence regime.
FBI operations suspended or curtailed during the Trump shutdown:
Crimes Against Children
Drug and Gang Crime
State and Local Collaboration