Thanks to my daughter Kathy for naming this blog.

Bald Eagle in Anchorage, Alaska


Thursday, October 12, 2023

All The President’s Men

Donald Trump was the 45th president of the United States, serving from 2017 until 2021.  Like any president, Trump appointed a cabinet of department secretaries, choosing highly accomplished individuals to serve in those positions.  Trump, with his well-known inclination for authority figures, chose a number of military generals.  Over the years, Trump also developed a circle of associates in private business.  As in any administration, conflicts developed between Trump and his subordinates, and sometimes between the subordinates.  However, Trump’s administration was noteworthy for the number of conflicts and for turnover in his cabinet. 

During his first campaign, Trump told Bret Baier of Fox News, “I'm going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people.”  Indeed, the people recruited to serve in Trump’s cabinet had remarkable resumes, particularly those in top-tier positions.  But as those individuals left the White House, a picture began to unfold about the president himself.  Their writings, interviews and public statements about the former president are a performance review from those who worked with him most closely in the White House.

The opinions about Donald Trump from his former subordinates paint a remarkably consistent portrait of the president.  They describe a man who has no principles, who sees everything through the lens of his own self-interest.  They describe a man who has no regard for rules, laws, treaties or behavioral norms.  They describe a man who is unbelievably impatient, who reacts rather than thinks, who doesn’t, can’t or won’t learn relevant facts before making a decision.  They describe a man with an incredibly short attention span.  They describe a man who admires dictators and aspires to have the power of a dictator, a man who has no regard for the constitution or democracy.  They describe a man who is enamored of violence, who seeks domination of others as a matter of course.  In blunt terms they describe a man with immature emotions and intellectual capacity, unable to understand complex state matters.  And they say that Trump should not be president.

Here, then, is Donald Trump’s Presidential Portrait.

Mark Esper

West Point, Lt. Colonel US Army, Congressional policy analyst, VP Aerospace Industries Association, VP Raytheon, Secretary of Defense.

“He is an unprincipled person who, given his self-interest, should not be in the position of public service."

“It's important to our country, it's important to the republic, the American people, that they understand what was going on in this very consequential period… The last year of the Trump administration.  And to tell the story about things we prevented. Really bad things. Dangerous things that could have taken the country in a dark direction."

Bret Baier, Fox News: "Is Donald Trump a threat to democracy?
Mark Esper: ““I think that given the events of January 6, given how he has undermined the election results, he incited people to come to DC, stirred them up that morning and failed to call them off, to me, that threatens our democracy. … I think the answer would – what else can you conclude, Bret?”

John Kelly

4-star General, US Marines, Board of Advisors, DC Capital Partners, Secretary of Homeland Security, White House Chief of Staff.

Trump is:
“A person that has no idea what America stands for and has no idea what America is all about.”
“A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family…and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are ‘losers’ and wouldn’t visit their graves in France.”
“A person who cavalierly suggests that a selfless warrior who has served his country for 40 years in peacetime and war should lose his life for treason – in expectation that someone will take action.”
“A person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators.”
“A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law."

“He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”

Kelly referred to Trump as "an idiot" multiple times to underscore his point, according to four officials who say they've witnessed the comments.

An unidentified friend of Kelly told CNN that Trump "can’t fathom the idea of doing something for someone other than himself.  Trump can’t imagine anyone else’s pain."

Jim Mattis

4-star General, Commander US Joint Forces, Commander NATO Allied Forces Transformation, Director General Dynamics, Secretary of Defense.

"The president acted like — and had the understanding of — ‘a fifth- or sixth-grader.’"

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths.”

Bill Barr

US Attorney, corporate lawyer, director of Time/Warner, Attorney General (1991-93, 2019 - 2020).

Donald Trump “knew well he lost the election.”
“Someone who engaged in that kind of bullying about a process that is fundamental to our system and to our self-government shouldn’t be anywhere near the Oval Office.”

“There was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were.  I thought, ‘Boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has lost contact with – he’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff.’”
Barr said the theories Trump supported were “idiotic” and “amateurish”.

Barr said this about various claims by the Trump legal team: “bullshit,” “completely bullshit,” “absolute rubbish,” “idiotic,” “bogus,” “stupid,” “crazy,” “crazy stuff,” “complete nonsense,” and “a great, great disservice to the country.”

Trump is a “fundamentally flawed person who engaged in reckless conduct.”
“He will always put his own interests and gratifying his own ego ahead of everything else, including the country's interests.”
“He's like a 9-year-old, a defiant 9-year-old kid who is always pushing the glass toward the edge of the table, defying his parents to stop him from doing it.  It's a means of self-assertion and exerting his dominance over other people. And he's a very petty individual who will always put his interests ahead of the country’s.”

Rex Tillerson

Chairman & CEO of Exxon-Mobil, President of Boy Scouts USA, Secretary of State.

“…a fucking moron.”  Corroborated by White House witnesses, following a meeting where Trump asked to increase the US nuclear arsenal ten-fold.

“When the president would say, ‘Here’s what I want to do, and here’s how I want to do it,’ and I’d have to say to him, ‘Well, Mr. President, I understand what you want to do but you can’t do it that way. It violates the law, it violates the treaty,’.... I think he grew tired of me being the guy every day that told him, ‘You can’t do that, and let’s talk about what we can do.’
Trump “is pretty undisciplined, doesn’t like to read, doesn’t read briefing reports, doesn’t like to get into the details of a lot of things, but rather just kind of says, ‘This is what I believe.’ ”

“Nothing worked out” with Trump’s foreign policy decisions.  "We squandered the best opportunity we had on North Korea. It was just blown up when he took the meeting with Kim [Jong Un], and that was one of the last straws between him and I," Tillerson told Foreign Policy. "With [Russia's Vladimir] Putin, we didn't get anything done. We're nowhere with China on national security.”..."We're in a worse place today than we were before he came in, and I didn't think that was possible."

“His understanding of global events, his understanding of global history, his understanding of U.S. history was really limited....It’s really hard to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t even understand the concept for why we’re talking about this.”

“I used to go into meetings with a list of four to five things I needed to talk to him about, and I quickly learned that if I got to three, it was a home run, and I realized getting two that were meaningful was probably the best objective....If I could put a photo or a picture in front of him or a map or a piece of paper that had two big bullet points on it, he would focus on that, and I could build on that,” Tillerson told the outlet. “Just sitting and trying to have a conversation as you and I are having just doesn’t work....I’m not sure many of those decisions were well-informed.”

John Bolton

Assistant Attorney General, Ambassador to the UN, US National Security Advisor, Secretary of State.

“Trump has the attention span of a fruit fly.”

“I hope [history] will remember him as a one-term president who didn’t plunge the country irretrievably into a downward spiral.  We can get over one term. I have absolute confidence. … Two terms, I’m more troubled about.”

Richard Spencer

US Marine aviator & captain, Wall Street executive, Vice-chair & CFO of Intercontinental Exchange, Pentagon & Navy business advisory panels, Secretary of the Navy.

“…the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices."

Mark Milley

4-star General US Army, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff

After Trump’s election loss in 2020, General Milley feared Trump would try “to use the military on the streets of America to prevent the legitimate, peaceful, transfer of power.”  Milley also feared that Trump would have a “Reichstag moment” to manufacture a foreign crisis and seize power.  Milley called his counterpart in China to reassure him that the US would not start a war.

“We don’t take an oath to a king, or queen, or tyrant or a dictator, and we don’t take an oath to a wannabe dictator.”

Gary Cohn

Vice-chair & COO of Goldman Sachs, Vice-chair of IBM, Director of National Economic Council, Chair of Pallas Advisors, Trump’s Chief Economic Advisor.

“It's worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won't read anything--not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored….Trump is less a person than a collection of terrible traits. No one will survive the first year but his family….I am in a constant state of shock and horror.”

Mike Pompeo

US Army Captain, founder, attorney, Thayer Aerospace, president Sentinel International, US Representative, Director of CIA, Secretary of State

“We can’t become the left, following celebrity leaders with their own brand of identity politics, those with fragile egos who refuse to acknowledge reality,”
“Trump had classified docs when he shouldn’t have had them, and when given the opportunity to return them, he chose not to do that”.

H.R. McMaster

3-star General, US Military Academy, Hoover Institution Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, Int’l Inst. of Strategic Studies, National Security Advisor.
H.R. McMaster said the president was an “idiot”, a “dope”, “with the intelligence of a kindergartener.”

Reince Priebus

Attorney, Republican National Committee Chair, White House Chief of Staff

Reports of chaos and disorganization inside the White House through the first months of President Donald Trump’s administration are accurate, former chief of staff Reince Priebus said. In fact, Priebus said, those reports understated the truth of the Trump administration’s beginnings.
“Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50.”

Anthony Scaramucci

Goldman Sachs investment banker, founder Oscar Capital, founder Skybridge Capital, White House Communications Director (briefly).

“Recently he has said things that divide the country in a way that is unacceptable. So I didn’t pass the 100% litmus test. Eventually he turns on everyone, and soon it will be you and then the entire country.”

Steve Bannon

Lt. US Navy, Assistant to Chief of Naval Operations, investment banker, executive chairman of Breitbart News, Senior Counselor to the President.

“He’s like an 11-year-old child.”

 Alyssa Griffin

Press secretary for the Dept of Defense, Press secretary to Mike Pence, co-host of The View, Special Assistant to the President.

She is trying to reach those who, like her, "drank the Kool-Aid."
“The people I’m most hoping to reach and convince that Trump is terrible for our country, are people who, like I once did, support him.”

Omarosa Newman

Participant on “The Apprentice”, Presidential aide, Director of Communications, Office of Public Liaison.

Trump is “racist, misogynist and bigot.”
“Would you look at this George Conway article?” she quotes the president as saying. “F**ing FLIP! Disloyal! Fucking Goo-goo.”
“growing realization that Donald Trump was indeed a racist, a bigot and a misogynist. My certainty about the N-word tape and his frequent uses of that word were the top of a high mountain of truly appalling things I’d experienced with him, during the last two years in particular.”

Tony Schwartz

Co-author, “The Art of the Deal”

“He is so deeply sociopathic that I don't think there is any capacity for empathy or any capacity for remorse.”
“He likes violence and particularly when that violence he perceives as exalting him and being on his behalf.”

“He had a stunningly short attention span....He was like a kindergartener who couldn’t sit still in the classroom.  My strong guess is that Trump has never read a book in his adult life.”

“When he feels aggrieved, he reacts impulsively and defensively, constructing a self-justifying story that doesn’t depend on facts and always directs the blame to others.”
“Trump was equally clear with me that he didn’t value — nor even necessarily recognize — the qualities that tend to emerge as people grow more secure, such as empathy, generosity, reflectiveness, the capacity to delay gratification or, above all, a conscience, an inner sense of right and wrong.”
“When he is challenged, he instinctively doubles down — even when what he has just said is demonstrably false.... Trump would see no contradiction at all in changing his story about why he fired Comey and thereby undermining the statements of his aides, or in any other lie he tells. His aim is never accuracy; it’s domination.”

“Lying is second nature to him.”

Michael Cohen

Former Trump personal lawyer.

“I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.”
“A copy of a check Mr. Trump wrote from his personal bank account – after he became president – to reimburse me for the hush money payments I made to cover up his affair with an adult film star and prevent damage to his campaign.  He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did.”
“Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project.”
“He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘shithole.’ This was when Barack Obama was President of the United States.”
“He told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.”
“I fear that if he loses the presidential election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”

Cohen said Trump told him to lie about the medical deferments Trump received that excused him from the draft during the Vietnam War.

Trump ordered Cohen to find a fake buyer for a portrait of Trump to make it appear that the painting had sold for a lot of money and was therefore valuable; actually, Cohen said, Trump arranged to use money from his foundation to inflate the sale price.

"The man doesn't tell the truth.”

Cohen said Trump is “a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man.”

Trump ran his operation “much like a mobster would do,” Cohen said.

Bonus Quote:
James Comey

US attorney, Director of the FBI
James Comey is not a Trump associate or appointee, but played a prominent role in Trump’s 2016 election victory over Hillary Clinton.  Here is Comey’s assessment of Trump.

“I actually believe he's morally unfit to be president." 
Trump is "someone who is able to see moral equivalence in (white nationalist protests in) Charlottesville or to speak and treat women like they're pieces of meat and to lie constantly and who appears to lack an external moral framework" of religion or philosophy or history.”

Bonus Quote #2
Mitt Romney
Senator, Gov. of Massachusetts, Republican Presidential Candidate

“I think he’s not smart. I mean, really not smart.  It’s like, how is that possible for someone over the second or third grade to think that?”

The prominent people featured in this post are not woke or leftist critics of the former president, but are Trump’s hand-picked appointees to the most critical posts in the country.   I don’t like most of them.  I think that they are largely terrible people for their conservative positions and past actions.  But these are the people responsible for the administration, operations and policies of the most critical elements of the United States government,  and some of Trump’s closest associates in private life.  They’re telling the truth about Trump.  They have a clear consensus about his character flaws that should preclude him from ever again holding the office of president.  The character flaws they describe are entirely consistent with everything else we suspect about the man – that he lied on loan applications, that he cheated on taxes, that he failed to pay his contractors, that he cheated on three wives, that he held a teen beauty contest so that he could walk in unannounced on naked children in their dressing room, that he stole government secrets and refused to return them when caught, that he tried to overturn the legitimate results of a presidential election, that he organized a riot to attempt a coup.

The conclusion is plain – Trump should not be president again.  But Republican voters continue to hold Trump in high regard.  Republican elected officials (with few exceptions, such as Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney) do not criticize or denounce this emperor with no clothes.  The media faithfully reports on his rallies, with a mild, futile protest of “Trump said XYZ without evidence” in the fine print near the bottom of the article. 

What does it take to get through to Republican voters? 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The Seven Mountains Movement

 The evangelical Seven Mountains movement is the most troubling political movement that you never knew existed.   The movement has a stated goal of dominating society by creating a modern far-right Christian theocracy.  

The Seven Mountains are the major spheres of influence within society.  Far-right Christian activists hope to reshape our entire society according to their ideology by placing “change agents” in positions of authority in each of the Seven Mountains.   The theory, as stated on a Seven Mountains website, is “He who controls the mountains, controls society.”  The Seven Mountains are:

  • Arts & Entertainment
  • Business
  • Education
  • Family
  • Government
  • Media
  • Religion

The Seven Mountains movement has already been successful in many areas, including American government, national cable news, talk radio and other media, state and local boards of education, popular music, venture capital and others. 

Religion in politics is especially problematic, because religious adherents presume the absolute authority of God.  The Christian far-right concedes no power or authority to their political opponents.  This is diametrically opposed to American ideas of representative democracy, the secular authority of the government, and the separation of church and state. 

The movement conforms well with other elements of the far-right, particularly in its authoritarian orientation.  Since the election of Donald Trump, the language used in the movement is aggressive, nationalistic and fascistic, full of dehumanizing denunciations of “the enemy”.  The movement is only one subculture in right-wing conservatism, but it has taken on some of the aggression and violent rhetoric of other right-wing subcultures, such as the NRA.  An example of the rhetoric can be heard in a video of a collective prayer recitation in a recent evangelical meeting in Georgia.  This rally was organized by Flashpoint, a program on the 24/7 religious cable television Victory Channel.  A commitment to the Seven Mountains is found in their opening prayer, here:

Here are a few declarations (among many) from the Flashpoint religious rally referenced above.

  • “We have been given legal power from heaven and now exercise our authority.
  • “Because of our covenant with God, we are equipped and delegated by Him to destroy every attempted advance of the enemy.
  • “We decree that our judicial system will issue rulings that are biblical and constitutional.
  • “We decree that we take back and permanently control positions of influence and leadership in each of the Seven Mountains.
  • “We decree that evil carries no power, authority or rights in our land nor over our people.”

These claims are disturbing, because they assert undemocratic authority, and violently threaten those with opposing views.  When is a political opponent an enemy?  Who decides if a political opponent is evil?  It appears that if the Religious Right is in charge, they will deny rights and democratic powers to their political opponents, which means the end of American democracy. 

In a similar vein, we can hear Kelly Tshibaka, candidate in Alaska for U.S. Senate, call for Christian participation and influence in government, beginning with her declaration that “God created government.”

I started writing this post over a decade ago, during the 2008 presidential campaign, when Sarah Palin was blessed in a church ceremony as a change agent for the movement.  I didn’t finish the post at that time, nor when I revisited the topic in 2016.  Since then, we’ve seen the denial of Barrack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland, the presidency of Donald Trump, and the ascension of three conservative Supreme Court justices nominated by Donald Trump.  We’ve also seen the election of hard-right Republican governors in many states, Republican-majority state legislatures, and pro-Republican gerrymandering of both federal and state legislative districts.  Many of these political changes were championed by or driven by the Christian far-right. 

The increasingly conservative Supreme Court has handed down decisions enabling greater influence of money in politics (Citizens’ United), the ability of employers to impose religious views on employees (Hobby Lobby), and the Dobbs decision overturning the general right to abortion in the United States.  There has been increasing proliferation of military-grade weapons in private hands, increases in hate crimes for reasons of religion or ethnicity, and confrontation and threats to liberal elected officials at every level of government. 

The Christian far-right has made inroads on the other mountains, as well as government.  The Christian right has worked to control school boards and obtain government funding for private schools, dominate the radio entertainment dial, dominate news sources through Fox News, OAN, NewsMax and others, control business holdings through conservative ownership, etc. 

The process of Christian far-right infiltration into politics has been going on for several decades.  Megachurch pastors have been spouting political rhetoric from the pulpit for just as long.  Television programs such as Pat Robertson’s “700 Club”, with a decidedly political bent, have long been drawing faithful viewers.  I saw the process by which religious conservatives took over Republican caucuses and school boards in the 1980s, in Texas.  In a precinct Republican caucus, the church group arrived en masse, outnumbering the neighborhood gathering.  They quickly elected their own officers, and voted to approve their own platform, without debate.  In retrospect, I don’t think there was any validation that this group actually lived in the precinct.  It was my first (and last) Republican caucus.  In the following school board election, the church put up a slate on a religious education platform.  They lost.  In the subsequent election, the same group of candidates appeared, but ran under a low-property tax platform and won.  Then they proceeded to implement their religious platform.

The Seven Mountains movement is large enough and old enough to have various divisions.  Despite the nationalism, it is a global movement.  It was an African pastor who blessed Sarah Palin as a change agent in a 2008 church ceremony in Wasilla, Alaska.  Divisions within the movement are based on theological or strategic differences. There are factions termed Dominionists and Anti-Dominionists, which differ on the degree of societal domination to be achieved (to the best of my understanding), and perhaps on the biblical justification for that domination. 


I am concerned about living in a biblically oriented, theocratic society with institutions based on beliefs and values I do not share.  Those beliefs include obsolete, biblical notions of morality, such as denial of LBTGQ+ rights and repressive roles for women in society.  The Christian Right also promotes biblical injunctions that don’t exist, but are asserted by religious authorities, such as a prohibition on abortion.  If these biblical injunctions are codified in American law, what is to stop the enactment of other, clearly stated biblical injunctions?   Deuteronomy 13 contains an edict to commit genocide against believers in other religions.   Deuteronomy 20 allows the enslavement and “use” of women and children captured in war.   Numbers 5 requires a women suspected of infidelity by her husband to undergo a ritual poisoning.  In 1st Timothy 2, we are instructed that a woman may never hold authority over a man.  These are just a few random examples of biblical nonsense out of a spectrum of biblical injunctions that might become law in a Seven Mountains society. 

The entire notion of far-right religious domination of society raises questions, real and rhetorical, about where this ideology might lead.  What religious coercion would be implemented in a Seven Mountains society?  Already, according to the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision, employers are allowed to decide whether or not an employee may receive birth control as an insurance benefit.  What further powers could be given to employers to restrict the religious freedom of employees?  The Supreme Court also recently ruled that a football coach can publicly coerce students into joining in public prayer.  What further religious indoctrination will be permitted in the public schools?  What religious indoctrination will be broadcast through entertainment channels, and conversely, what entertainment will be banned?  What consumer choices will be allowed and disallowed in a Seven Mountains society?  The Christian far-right claims victimhood in religious freedom, while doing everything it can to restrict the religious (or anti-religious) freedoms of other individuals.

I am a firm atheist.  I regard Christianity and all other religions as superstitious nonsense. I believe that events in the world show that God is either unreasonable, unjust, capricious and a poor communicator with humankind, or that God does not exist.  I choose to not believe in an unreasonable, unjust and capricious God; it is more reasonable to conclude that God does not exist.  Further, traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and scripture are problematic for modern society in many ways.  If you are interested, you may read blog posts about my thoughts on the topic, here:

On a major street corner in suburban Anchorage, Alaska, a landowner displays a large billboard reading: “God, Guns and Trump”.  Based on my religious upbringing, the connection between God and Guns isn’t readily obvious.  The connection between God and Trump is even more tenuous.  But the connection here lies in authoritarianism.  The Religious Right wants to establish unilateral Christian control over society, regardless of democratic norms, diversity of beliefs, or other opinions.  The Trump/MAGA political faction wants to establish an authoritarian dictatorship regardless of the outcome of elections.  And guns – thanks to the proliferation of military-grade weapons since 2014 – are the means of accomplishing those ends, through intimidation or possibly through violent paramilitary militias.  The last point is better left for another post. 


Flashpoint, Victory Channel collective prayer invocation, Georgia.

Transcript given below, after references.

Examples of Seven Mountains rhetoric


Seven Mountain Dominionist and Anti-Dominionist Dispute

 Sarah Palin and Seven Mountains

Halton Lecture: Faith and Politics, The Rise of the Religious Right and Its Impact on American Domestic and Foreign Policy, David Halton, Larkin-Stuart Lectures, University of Toronto, March 8-9, 2007.[Note: this link is no longer active.  It is likely that the lecture can be found through the Internet Wayback Machine or other Internet archive.]

Ted Cruz  
Ted Cruz’s father Rafael gives speech designating Ted as biblical king.   Wealth is transferred from the wicked to the priests/ quid-pro-quo for the priests and the kings.    Reference and complete text of 7 mountains blessing of Sarah Palin.
[This link is also no longer active, but may be found with an Internet archive.]

Kelly Tshibaka, leading candidate for U.S. Senate in Alaska, on video as presented by Right Wing Watch on Twitter, July 12, 2022.  Transcript given below, after references.



Flashpoint Collective Invocation
Transcript of collective prayer invocation, at Georgia religious rally by Flashpoint, of the Victory Channel.

“Watchman Decree
As a Patriot of faith, I attest my allegiance first and foremost to the kingdom of God and the Great Commission.  Secondly, I agree to be a watchman over our nation concerning its people and their rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness --
we, the Church, are God’s governing Body on the earth
we have been given legal power from heaven and now exercise our authority
we are God’s ambassadors and spokespeople over the earth
through the power of God, we are the world influencers
because of our covenant with God, we are equipped and delegated by Him to destroy every attempted advance of the enemy.
We make our declarations:
1.  We decree that America’s executive branch of government will honor God and defend the Constitution.
2.  We decree that our legislative branch (Congress) will write only laws that are righteous and constitutional.
3.  We decree that our judicial system will issue rulings that are biblical and constitutional.
4.  We declare that we stand against wokeness, the occult and every evil attempt against our nation.
5.  We declare that we now take back our God-given freedoms, according to the Constitution.
6.  We declare that we take back influence at the local level in our communities.
7.  We decree that we take back and permanently control positions of influence and leadership in each of the *Seven Mountains.
8.  We decree that the blood of Jesus covers and protects our nation.  It protects and separates us for God.
9.  We declare that our nation is energy independent.
10.  We declare that America is strong spiritually, financially, militarily and technologically.
11.  We decree that evil carries no power, authority or rights in our land nor over our people.
12.  We decree that we operate in unity, going beyond denominational lines in order to accomplish the purposes of God for our nation.
13.  And we decree that AMERICA SHALL BE SAVED!
We know this country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles.
We know the truth; therefore, we stand for truth and will NEVER be deceived!
We will NEVER stop fighting!
We will NEVER, EVER, EVER give up or give in!
We WILL take our country back.
We will honor THE ONE TRUE GOD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!

Kelly Tshibaka

Kelly Tshibaka, leading candidate for U.S. Senate in Alaska, on video as presented by Right Wing Watch on Twitter, July 12, 2022.  Transcript:

“God created government.  So, I got sent to the Harvest Field of Government.  And again, it’s a Christmas verse, but Isaiah 9:6, ‘Unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given.’  And, what?  ‘The government will rest on his shoulders.’   Well, guys, again, where is God today?  Is he in Jerusalem?  In a temple?  Where are his shoulders?  [singing] Head, shoulders, knees and… [trails off]   His shoulders are your shoulders.  So if the government rests on his shoulders, and we are not in government, helping government, influencing government – if we abdicate government and politics, are we living out Genesis 1 and Isaiah 9?  No.  So we’ve got to put this into practice.”

Sunday, January 9, 2022

The Problem with Governing Least

 A few months ago, Alaska Gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker & his running mate Heidi Drygas penned an op-ed critical of Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy’s handling of the pandemic.  In his retweet of the op-ed, Walker highlighted one phrase: “The best government is that which governs least,” before qualifying and contradicting that sentiment.

Perhaps Walker’s statement is a bit of conservative virtue-signaling, or perhaps he really believes what he says.  But Governor Dunleavy and Anchorage Mayor Bronson are doing exactly what is demanded by the “least government” paradigm by doing nothing about the pandemic.

“Governing least” produces disastrous outcomes for patients, the economy, our healthcare system and its workers.  Walker sees the problem, but doesn’t recognize that their failure is rooted in conservative ideology. 

When people believe that government is a bad thing, or when people distrust the government, it harms the foundation of our society.  There’s a spectrum of anti-government attitudes and actions out there, from tax-cheats and anti-maskers to QAnon believers and AR15 hoarders.  It’s a growing problem, and it gets worse every time a conservative politician casts the government as the boogeyman. 

The origin of the phrase “The best government is that which governs least” is tainted.  The idea came not from Thomas Jefferson, but from an 1837 anti-government screed by political columnist John O’Sullivan.  O’Sullivan’s article reminds me of the Unabomber’s manifesto.  In the same article, O’Sullivan wrote, “A strong and active democratic government, in the common sense of the term, is an evil, differing only in degree and mode of operation, and not in nature, from a strong despotism.”  Also, “relief from the tumult of moral and physical confusion [democracy] is to be found only under the shelter of an energetic armed despotism.”  And, “Legislation has been the fruitful parent of nine-tenths of all the evil, moral and physical, by which mankind has been afflicted since the creation of the world, and by which human nature has been self-degraded, fettered, and oppressed.”  O’Sullivan was a proponent of slavery and a supporter of the Confederacy, and coined the term “manifest destiny” to describe the subjugation of Native peoples.  We should not take our guiding political principle from a document which prefers armed despotism to democracy, and regards legislation as a moral and physical evil.  A link to O’Sullivan’s entire article is given below.

Our nation was founded on the principle that government is good. The Constitution gives our government a broad mandate to promote the general welfare, from which we benefit in many ways, as follows.

  •    A justice system which protects liberties.
  •    Education for all through grade 12.
  •    Medicare and Social Security to enable the elderly and disabled to live with dignity.
  •    Regulation of businesses to protect consumers and the environment.
  •    Regulation of the finance system for stable economic growth.
  •    Programs to advance education, health and opportunity for those in need.
  •    Protection for communities, jobs and the economy in the event of unexpected catastrophes.
  •    Lands set aside to protect nature for future generations and for its own sake.
  •    Scientific research for national progress.
  •    Funding for public infrastructure projects.

We benefit from these programs because we are all connected in our society and economy, and we all prosper or decline together. A healthy, prosperous and literate society benefits everyone.

Small government is one of the cornerstones of conservative ideology. In the forty years since Reagan, conservatives have had a single-minded goal of shrinking government, without any proof that small government is a good idea.  In my opinion, the most damaging thing that happened to the United States since WWII was when Reagan convinced Americans that government was the problem, not the solution. The endpoint of shrinking government is anarchy.  Without government regulation, the free market allows companies to produce unsafe products, defraud consumers, pollute the air and water, and otherwise externalize business costs to the public.

Well-regulated free enterprise with private ownership of business is clearly the most efficient economic system. It works because price signals in a free market provide the best solution to allocating capital and labor for the best use.  But free enterprise is not the solution to every problem in society, and free enterprise fails badly when the price signals or flexible markets aren't working.  The economic role of government Is to intervene in those circumstances.

For every anecdotal example of the government wasting money, there are multiple examples of private businesses wasting money.  Private enterprise is at least the equal of government in wasting money due to poor planning, risk, error and negligence, which ultimately harms society.  Consider the banking practices which led to the 2008 financial crisis, the Exxon Valdez and BP Gulf of Mexico oil spills, Shell’s failed $7B Chukchi exploration program, New Coke, Microsoft Zune, Ford’s Edsel, the Enron collapse, or VW’s emissions scandal.  Do not think that these losses only affected the owners of those companies; we all suffer from business failures. If you were not impacted by the 2008 financial crisis, raise your hand.

Conservatives also trot out tired and inaccurate comparisons to failed foreign governments in their crusade against big government, crying “Socialism! Look at Venezuela! Look at the Soviet Union!”  But the key problems in these countries have nothing to do with social spending.  Venezuela and the Soviet Union failed because of authoritarianism, cults of loyalty to political leaders, single-party rule, cronyism, repression of the free press, secret police, loss of personal freedoms and state ownership of capital. Scary conservative rhetoric about socialism has no basis in fact. It’s nonsense.

It’s time for conservatives to recognize that the unbounded ambition of “least government” is wrong. When people believe that government is a bad thing, or when people distrust the government, it harms the foundation of our society.  Let’s begin a rational discussion about the proper function of government, without nastiness and without sabotaging the wheels of our democracy.  I would suggest adopting the adage “The government is best which governs responsibly, for the benefit of people and nature and with the consent of the governed.”  We’ll all be healthier, wealthier, and happier for it.


Standing in solidarity with our medical community and calling for leadership, Bill Walker and Heidi Drygas, October 9, 2021.

Who first said, ‘The best government is that which governs least’? Not Thoreau, Eugene Volokh, Sept 6, 2017.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Thirteen Political Tribes

 The United States has become more politically polarized over the past 40 years.  Growing polarization threatens the ability of our representatives to compromise without alienating their political base, and it threatens their ability govern effectively.

The Capitol invasion of January 6th may push Republican political divisions to the breaking point.  Similarly, divisions among Democrats will make Biden’s work more difficult, even with Democrats controlling the Presidency, with narrow majorities in the House & Senate (but not the Supreme Court).  I believe that our two-party system is on the cusp of a once-in-a-century re-organization, with traditional constituencies changing sides, and a third or fourth major party developing.

The two major parties are coalitions of a number of different constituencies, with differing socio-economic, racial, gender and geographic backgrounds.  I divided the constituencies into six Democratic tribes, six Republican tribes, and one Apolitical tribe. The differences between the tribes are potential fault lines that could fracture the two political alliances. 

Thirteen Political Tribes

The American voting system is the biggest factor binding these disparate tribes together.  Our system of partisan primaries tends to weed out moderates, and reward strong partisans.  Further, our typical plurality victory rules (“first-past-the-post”) in general elections tend to entrench the two-party system (Duverger's law, if you are interested)

The alliances that develop due to these forces are diverse.  The voting system forces alliances, and these are the alliances that evolved.  The alliances in each party do share broad sets of values, according to a dichotomy suggested by Jacob Bronowski (without a political context) in “Science and Human Values”.  Democrats prioritize values that join people into societies, and Republicans prioritize freedoms as single individuals.  But as the weighting of these values becomes more extreme, some individuals and groups are finding themselves uncomfortable within their own party and interested in change.

Here’s how I classify the diverse tribes of each party.

Democratic Party:                                                            Republican Party:
Liberal Elites                                                                       Law & Order Republicans
Angry Progressives                                                          Monied Republicans
BIPOC                                                                                   Salvation Republicans
Organized Labor                                                               NRA/Trump Bullies
LGBTQ+                                                                                Libertarians
Disengaged Young Urban Poor                                   Disengaged Rural White Poor

A thirteenth tribe is the genuinely apolitical, disengaged group.  This group is poorly informed, and fails to discern a difference between the parties.   The group ranges from homeless & working poor to other poorly informed and cynically disengaged non-voters.

Women tend to favor the Democratic Party, but curiously, do not strongly identify as a distinct political tribe, either in partisanship, or in self-identification.  Reproductive rights are an important issue to many women (and men), but it doesn't seem to unify a supermajority of women under a single banner.

There are detailed descriptions of each tribe below.  I have not based this on any scientific research or polling.  These tribes are simply based on my perception, based on people I know or have encountered through politics.  There is considerable overlap between the categories, such that Monied Republicans may also be Salvation Republicans, and Barack Obama can be classified as belonging to both the Liberal Elite tribe and the BIPOC tribe.  But I think for most voters, there will be a primary tribal allegiance.  If you are reading this, you are probably a member of the Liberal Elite tribe, centered around higher education, as I am.  Individual politicians can gain clout within their own party by representing more than one constituency.  Examples include Barack Obama, as a Liberal Elite and BIPOC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a Latina BIPOC and Angry Progressive, Pete Buttigieg as LGBTQ+ and Liberal Elite, and Donald Trump as a Monied Republican and an NRA Bully.

The 2020 election and its aftermath showed significant movement in these core constituencies.  The Democratic Party lost vote share in Democratic stronghold districts, particularly among less than college-educated BIPOC, organized labor and young urban voters.  In Alaska, this was particularly noticeable in remote Alaska districts with majority Native Alaskan populations.  These losses were documented nationwide among BIPOC voters, and contributed to the loss of a net eleven seats in the US House, in an election that should have carried Democratic coat-tails.

Disaffected and disillusioned Republicans include the members of the Lincoln Project, Lisa Murkowski, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Colin Powell and staffers for various national figures.  Republicans lost vote share in the suburbs, particularly among women; these losses largely drove President Biden’s victory.

I framed these changes as losses, rather than gains by the opposing party, because they seem to be driven by disillusionment, rather than by attraction of the competing ideology.  Going forward, I expect party affiliations to be driven more strongly by education, as the right-wing propaganda machine continues to influence voters with lower education and news engagement.  I expect Monied Republicans to migrate to the Democratic Party, as it becomes apparent that Republican policies are slow death to business, even in a lower-tax environment.  I expect some of the Organized Labor, BIPOC, and Disengaged Urban Poor voters to migrate to the Republican Party.  Democrats can not take these loyalties for granted, and must provide representation and visibility to these constituencies to earn their allegiance.  The Republican Party’s embrace of white supremacy may help Democrats, but more must be done to actually maintain these traditional political allies.

The re-orientation of the tribes leaves some groups without a clear political home.  Libertarians who are disgusted with authoritarian Trumpist policies are not therefore inclined to become Democrats.  Likewise, Salvation and Law & Order Republicans may be prepared to leave the Republican party due to the abuses of the NRA/Trumpist Bully tribe, but will not be willing to accept legal abortion, LGBTQ+ acceptance, or BLM organizers and support.  There may be more groups choosing political disengagement, until a major re-organization occurs. 

In an environment of political disengagement, there is a greater risk that the right-wing extremist faction which coalesced under President Trump will again attempt to take power by a combination of political gains, intimidation and force.  The next decade will prove whether the American democratic republic will long endure.



Liberal Elites -- Generally white, college & post-graduate education, professional, sometimes wealthy.

Urban (especially university areas) and suburban.

Loyal mainstream Democratic supporters.

Policy wonk mentality, credentialists.

Major Issues:  Reproductive choice, Climate Change, gun control, wealth inequality, social justice (but less interested than Angry Progressives and BIPOC), mixed opinions on global trade, generally anti-military spending and involvement.

Angry Progressives

Mainly younger voters

Anti-corporate, anti-capitalism.  Want change now, or better, yesterday.

Major issues: Medicare for all, climate action, green new deal, wealth inequality, social justice (intersectionality, decolonization, de-funding police, internationally isolationist, anti-global trade.

Unhappy with mainstream Democrats.

            Sometimes low-engagement voters, often don’t see differences between the major parties

BIPOC – Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and Immigrants

Minority, usually urban (Black and Hispanic) or rural (Indigenous) voters

Loyal Democratic supporters

Want representation; are sometimes unhappy if support for Democrats is not repaid with representation.

Major issues: Community support & development, BLM, judicial and policing reform, aid to families, anti-poverty programs.  Reparation for enslavement and colonization is a growing interest.  Climate Change is a major issue for Indigenous groups.

Some alignment with Salvation Republicans on religious issues, but this is generally out-weighed by racial and ethnic issues.  Noteworthy is the rejection of Latinx identification by many Hispanic voters, who differentiate themselves by national origin. 

Labor – Middle-class and working-class families, mostly urban to suburban.

Traditionally reliable Democratic voters, but taking direction from union leadership.  In recent years, unions have been willing to shift allegiance to individual Republican state office-holders in exchange for specific concessions. 

Labor voters have much in common with Law-and-Order Republicans, in terms of income, wealth, education and attitudes toward race.  Labor voters may be easily persuaded to shift allegiance to Republicans.

Major Issues:  Union power, rights, & representation in government, union governmental contracts for pay & benefits.

LGBTQ+ – Mostly urban constituency, cutting across many other social, economic and ethnic divisions. 

Loyal Democratic voters, activists and office-holders, disproportionately politically active.  Driven by political and religious opposition, and by success in achieving equal rights in recent decades. 

Major Issues:  Civil rights and representation.  The history of LGBTQ+ repression has promoted greater empathy for other marginalized groups.

Disengaged Young Urban Poor

This constituency leans Democratic, but turnout is lowest of major voting groups.  Turnout of young voters is about half of that of elder voters, greatly hurting their political influence and policies favoring their constituency.  Generally less educated than Angry Progressives, and less partisan.  Less informed than other major voting groups, and unmotivated to vote, due to feelings of futility.  Some overlap with BIPOC group.



Law-and-Order Republicans—This is the Republican mainstream.

Suburban to rural, generally middle-class to working-class white, thrifty homeowners.  Includes military and police families, and many older white citizens; mostly suburban to rural, somewhat more men than women. This group is centered around respect for official authority and national symbols – police, military, flag and anthem.  They give these things almost religious significance, such that criticism of them is considered sacrilege.  This group values conformity, obedience and self-reliance.  Patriotism and tradition are highly valued.  This group is generally Christian and white.  There is large overlap with Salvation Republicans, but with different weighting of religious and authoritarian values. 

These are loyal Republican voters and exclusive consumers of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and conventional right-wing media.

Major Issues:  Low taxes, Defense, tough police and judiciary, conservative social policies, anti-immigration, anti-science, anti-diversity, anti-Democratic Party.

Salvation Republicans—Evangelical Christians, often attending megachurches.

Mostly white, suburban middle-class families, ranging from young to old.

This is a sub-set of Law-and-Order Republicans, but with a distinct primacy of religious issues and outlook.   Other aspects of authoritarian outlook are the same as the Law-and-Order group, including police, military and nationalism.  Their top issues are abortion, LGBTQ+ discrimination, sexual constraints and other issues regarded as matters of religious liberty.

Monied Republicans Urban and suburban White, wealthy.

White, wealthy, highly educated families with high-school & college-aged children, to middle-aged and elderly retirees.  Wealth ranges from a few million dollars to billionaires.  The wealthiest live near large urban financial center, while moderately wealthy may live near any urban center.  Primarily motivated by self-interest, Monied Republicans support low personal income taxes, low taxes on capital returns, low inheritance taxes and low business income taxes.  Also motivated by a relaxed business regulatory environment, and the concept of small government (and low taxes).  Monied Republicans have much in common with Liberal Elites, and less in common with other Republican tribes.  The main difference between Liberal Elites and Monied Republicans is a matter of personal values, rather than demographics.  As a consequence, many families in the white, wealthy world are sharply divided by political differences.

NRA/Trump Bullies – Mostly male, white rural gun owners.

White, young-to-middle aged, rural to suburban, lower-to-middle class working men.  NRA/Trump Bullies are united by a common culture with symbolic identification – pickup trucks, guns, other rural symbols.  The primary political orientation is simply hatred of liberals and Democrats.  Individualism is the primary value, and rejection of social responsibility and government.  Active on social media, and devoted followers of right-wing and alternative media ranging from Fox News, OAN, News Max, InfoWars and QAnon.  This group is the most likely to be influenced by conspiracy theories.  President Trump made significant progress in winning the exclusive loyalty to his person, rather than to the party as a whole.  This is clearly dangerous with a leader who is unconstrained by regard for rules, laws or tradition, and a group with an inclination toward threats and violence. 

Libertarians – Mostly white, male, well-educated iconoclasts and non-conformists.

Libertarians are mostly well-educated, young to middle-aged urban-to-suburban working men.  Generally well-informed but cynical about government and politics, they have a weak allegiance to the Republican party because of Republican individualistic values and rejection of social responsibility.  Generally not aligned with Republican religious values or authoritarian policies. 


Apolitical Disengaged

Apolitical  – Urban working poor to homeless; includes other poorly informed or cynically disengaged non-voters.  Unlikely to participate in elections without significant voter outreach.