This Is How Trust In A Democracy Dies…And When Trust Dies, Democracy Dies


I am late getting up the first post of this Saturday—experience shows that if there isn’t at least one post up by 10:30 am, the total traffic for the day will resemble that of Hooterville at midnight in mid-February—because I was watching with my face in a rictus of horror as the Pentagon’s various flacks tried to spin the unspinnable and treated the American public as idiots as well as the news media (but then the reporters are idiots, to be fair.)

The various contrived reports—What a wonderful and heroic job the U.S. military is doing in evacuating people! Teamwork! Coordination! Brilliantly executed planning! It’s a triumph!–were dripping with Authentic Frontier Gibberish like “throughput.” I don’t trust officials who won’t speak plain English. The Pentagon’s mouthpieces kept describing the situation as “fluid and dynamic,” over and over, obviously and deliberately misleading adjectives with false positive vibrations that were carefully chosen to deceive. It reminded me of Phillip Roth’s satire “Our Gang” in which White House spokesmen keep describing the President as “resting comfortably” when he is in fact dead.

When one of today’s liars was asked about one of his assurances last week that turned out to be completely false, his response was, “That was absolutely true at the time I said it.” He also kept repeating, “I’m not going to get into threat assessments at this time.”

How can anyone with sufficient cognitive ability to tie their shoelaces trust people who talk like this ever? How can they ever trust the organizations and institutions they represent? The answer is simple: They can’t.

Nor can Americans trust the organizations and institutions who continue to cover for the liars. Apparently the Afghanistan fiasco turned out to be a tipping point after all: after spinning, lying and hiding uncomfortable facts about Joe Biden for more than a year (after all, they had to make sure Trump lost), most of the mainstream media is mad as as hell and isn’t going to take it any more—for their own survival; don’t think for a minute they care about you or the nation. These media hacks know that the trust the public has regarding their reporting is at a dangerous all-time low, and they are not going to throw away what little remains for a weak, petty and mentally declining mediocrity like Joe Biden, who has placed himself in the starring role of the naked Emperor in Hans Christian Anderson’s tale.

It isn’t only the conservative media that is pointing out Joe’s lies and delusions during his defiant speech yesterday, though they are clearly having a ball as in this example from Instapundit reacting to Biden’s risible (or scary) statement, “I have seen no question of our credibility from our allies around the world.”

Instapundidt meme

However, now it isn’t only Factcheck.Org (the closest we have to an objective factchecking organization) having the integrity to call Biden on his lies, obfuscations and misrepresentations, but such Democratic propaganda outlets as the New York Times and PolitiFact. The latter was particularly vociferous:


This isn’t funny or satisfying, it’s tragic. The news media’s sudden decision to try practicing journalism comes far too late. Americans have no reason to trust their government, its elected leaders, the military or the “press,” which our Founders designated as essential to make democracy possible through an informed citizenry. Nor can citizens trust each other, as still, partisanship poisoned friends and relatives prove incapable of accepting reality when it contradicts false narratives that have been pounded into their brains since childhood.

Democracy is a form of government that cannot survive without mutual trust. Everything is reminding me of movies today, I don’t know why, but I keep picturing the falling gauge in the nuclear plant that nearly blows up in “The China Syndrome,” and the depth indicator in “Crimson Tide” that shows the sinking submarine nearing the point where pressure will squash it flat. In both movies, disaster is averted at the last second. America’s trust meter is at that point right now. If it starts rising again in time to avert disaster, it will be pure moral luck.

29 thoughts on “This Is How Trust In A Democracy Dies…And When Trust Dies, Democracy Dies

  1. Afghanistan is a mess. COVID-19 Variant Delta Force is wrecking the hospital system. The border, even after determining the root causes of uncontrolled immigration, is a complete disaster. The national debt is spinning way out of control, and the country is completely fractured. Not much to do around here, so let’s send P.V. Harris to the Far East:

    May she’ll stay a while, ¿no?

    • Scenario: Kamala has a deadly mishap on some foreign junket. Perhaps she’s first given the option of finding some forgotten, but now urgent, family duty that requires her to resign. Joe selects a not screamingly awful VP, with at least some slight possibility of reelection. After an appropriate period, Joe resigns for health reasons, or just falls down some steps.

  2. Well, if people are going to trust each other, they need to be able to understand each others’ fears and values.

    That’s where I come in. With a shared vocabulary of the basic concepts on which we base our individual and collective identities, I can help people recognize how much they really have in common and how they can help each other. Then we’ll be able to work together to democratize power and apply it constructively, so that elites can no longer manipulate the public.

    • Screw that. At this point it’s every group for themselves. I’m tired of being told I can no longer defend my side, I can no longer insert myself, andthat I who wronged no one owe those who were not wronged. Take away the soapbox, the ballot box, and the jury box, the only box left is the cartridge box.

    • Do you? Are you truly able to speak to both sides and make them comprehend the others perspective? If so you’re quite valuable.
      I think it’s like those images where you can see multiple things. We’re all looking but some of us see the old lady and others see the young woman and nothing you say will alter that perception or help anyone see what they don’t want to see, especially if it makes them feel vulnerable and wrong.

      • I’ve got the vocabulary all set up to help people communicate their values and fears. Now I’m just trying to help them get started applying them. It’ll be much more effective if people speak about their own experiences than if I try to speak for them all the time, although I can and have mediated when I’ve spotted the opportunity. The more people with the skill, though, the better, and it’s not hard to learn.

        The short version is that every ideological conflict is based on a disagreement about what tradeoffs people want to accept when they deal with one or more fundamental liabilities (scarcity, disaster, stagnation, or conflict in general).

        Some people will push for one tradeoff regarding a particular liability (e.g. erring on the side of wastefulness versus austerity when dealing with scarcity), while other people push for the opposite tradeoff, based on what costs and risks they feel most able to deal with. The problem starts when these different groups talk past each other, refusing to acknowledge that those who disagree have a defensible position. This refusal causes the main obstacle, which is that people become unable to work with each other to find a constructive path forward that will address the needs of everyone involved. (For example, “investment” is how I describe most constructive ways to deal with scarcity; investing resources constructively is better than attempting to find a magic balance between wastefulness and austerity.)

        A constructive path may bring in options that people never considered, because those options don’t look exactly the way people expect success to look like. The political compass of liabilities (part of the Foundational Toolbox for Life) is a vocabulary not only helps people understand and appreciate the values and fears of others (and be understood and appreciated in turn), but also allows them to reconsider their assumptions about what a healthy world looks like.
        As you say, people don’t want to see the opposing tradeoff when it makes them feel vulnerable and wrong. That’s why making people feel comfortable is the first step in helping them think constructively. They need to know that their values and fears are valid, and that we don’t want to bulldoze over them. Once that’s established, we often find they don’t really want to bulldoze over anyone else either; it was just self-defense. Then the real conversation can begin.

        How does that sound?

      • I appreciate that! Right now I’m working on getting started doing the hard work, since the hard thinking is more or less done. I’ll be working with a group of entrepreneurs supporting other entrepreneurs here in Madison to identify the best target audiences to start with. That way I can demonstrate how much the Toolbox helps people and hopefully eventually make a full-time career of it.

        Once the target audiences have been established, I can create resources like articles, lectures, and courses tailored to their situations.

        What sort of things do you want to say in the email?

  3. I’m just going to sit back and sneer as this submarine approaches hull crush depth while George Dzundza matter-of-factly calls off the numbers. I may not have voted for this dumpster fire of an administration led by a nearly dead man who’s only skill, a quick tongue, has deserted him as he lurches closer and closer to 80, you may not have either, but, We the People did.

    We the people did it despite full knowledge of who this person was, where he was in life, and what he had done before this. It’s all out there on the public record and all accessible at the touch of a few keys. When Barack Obama was in high school, Donald Trump had yet to make a name for himself, and Ronald Reagan was Governor of California, signing the law that made paramedics a fact in America, Biden was already in Congress, pulling the rug out from under South Vietnam. When Reagan was winning the Cold War, he was plagiarizing speeches for not too serious attempt at the big chair. When Obama decided to go ahead with the mission to take out bin Laden he was saying not to do it because there would be no one to pass the blame to if it failed. Now things are falling apart in a matter of days rather than months and this nation is being made a fool of, and he is acting annoyed that we pulled him away from his vacation.

    I said once that he would be an acceptable president in peacetime, when all that was needed was a grandfatherly elder statesman who would just need to stand back, let prosperity take its course, and make sure small crises stayed small. I must now retract that statement, and say that not only is he not fit to lead this nation with the myriad problems that faces now, he was never fit to lead it in any state now, and he may never have been fit to lead it even at his height.

    The man is not a powermonger like the Clintons, a Peter principle career public servant like Bush the Elder, or even a master orator and intimidator like his old boss. He is a worthless, lazy bullshit artist with no sense of honor whose greatest skills were misdirection and wearing out other people’s patience. Not only is he no good, but he has surrounded himself with no good people. This mess is the result, and we really can’t afford three more years of this. Unfortunately, if we were to somehow boot him from office, his vice president has shown that she is also not up to the job. Someone once posited to me that Obama picked him as vice president as an insurance policy against impeachment. It would not surprise me if he did the same with Harris.

    We knew all this, a lot of us spoke out against putting him in office. However, no one listened to us. The perception that things were spinning out of control, the woke Kool-Aid, and too many people being all right with an absentee president instead of what we had was enough of a combination to put him over the top, especially when combined with his ability to hide in the cellar and make himself a non-entity, away from the questions. The fact is that the American people are generally lazy and prefer to be spoon-fed rather than doing my research. I’m beginning to think you could spoon feed the American people s*** and tell them it was chocolate pudding and get away with it.

    At this point, We the people deserve whatever befalls. Sometimes, when someone makes a bad decision, they just have to suffer the pain of making that bad decision, no attempt to even take away a little bit of the impact. Sometimes it takes a permanently scarred hand to teach you not to go near the hot stove. Sometimes it takes a permanent limp from a broken leg to teach you not to sled the steep hill. I bet Louis Braille did not dare fool around with an awl again after he blinded himself using one. Maybe it’s going to take some permanent damage to teach We the people a lesson too.

    • Steve-O: Ordinarily, I agree with and appreciate your insight and wit. On your thoughts today, however, I cannot agree. “We the people” did not vote this empty suit to be our president. 80 million (supposedly 80 million) people did, while 65 million (supposedly 65 million) people understood we need Donald Trump back in office if no other reason but to keep Biden and the Democrats far away from our White House. You are correct, however, to suggest, “We the people” have to [regretabley] live with whatever it was that really happened last November 3rd.

  4. Looking at the news right now makes me feel sick. All I can think about is the Americans in Kabul who are going to end up massacred by or hostages of the Taliban. I have this horrible dread that all this is going to end up making the Iran hostage crisis look like chump change. It’s like someone combined the Ford and Carter administrations into one horrible mangle or something. I’m not even angry or sad, just horrified and sick to my stomach. Biden is a senile old mad man, and everyone around him seems to have a combined IQ that a goose could surpass. The V.P. won’t even step up and do anything because “your not going to pin this shit on me!” So there is just no one taking responsibility for anything. Foreign policy is now a hot potato in the middle of a massive crisis, and the American people in Kabul are caught in the middle. The Taliban is now the proud owners of Apache helicopters and rocket launchers and god knows what else, and there is no telling what they will do with them. They will probably cart half of it over or completely open southern border and blow up whatever they want. What is happening??? I don’t understand! I knew the Biden administration was going to be a train wreck, but even the most cynical things I imagined didn’t include handing American weapons and citizens over to a terrorist group and then going on live television and declaring it to be a wonderful plan.

  5. I really cannot add much to the sentiments expressed already. I am wondering if anyone else thought Biden’s statement that every American who WANTS TO LEAVE AFGHANISTAN will be evacuated. The qualifier appears to be a weasel phrase to say that those left behind wanted to stay and no one will be able to confirm or deny it once we are gone. What American wants to stay in that shithole country.

    • I can totally see him doing that, but I just assumed he was referring to the assorted journalists and humanitarian workers who might decide to stay knowing they’re risking their lives. It did seem overly pedantic to me, so your take might be the right one.

    • Following up a week later. We now are hearing that only 6000 Americans want to leave because that is the number the State dept has heard from. Two days ago they had no idea how many Americans were in country. The deadline looms, the Taliban says no extensions and I will bet the administration leaves many behind and claims it got everyone out. Biden lies and people get screwed.

  6. “How can anyone with sufficient cognitive ability to tie their shoelaces trust people who talk like this ever? How can they ever trust the organizations and institutions they represent? The answer is simple: They can’t.”
    “Americans have no reason to trust their government, its elected leaders, the military or the “press,”

    Now people increasingly distrust the NIH, CDC, WHO, NIAID, et al. promulgating virus/vaccine stats, information, and resent the strong arm tactics imposed by people who continually sound the alarm of covid doom while simultaneously dispersing a million plus foreigners throughout the country and selectively imposing protective mandates.
    One cannot trust people who mandate rent free living but do not mandate a moratorium on landlord’s mortgage payments, property taxes, and maintenance costs. What a great way to carve up more of the middle class because eventually many landlords will have to sell their property and guess who is salivating for the opportunity to capitalize? Unfortunately the number of similar examples is disturbingly large.

  7. Jack said:

    This isn’t funny or satisfying, it’s tragic. The news media’s sudden decision to try practicing journalism comes far too late. Americans have no reason to trust their government, its elected leaders, the military or the “press,” which our Founders designated as essential to make democracy possible through an informed citizenry. Nor can citizens trust each other, as still, partisanship poisoned friends and relatives prove incapable of accepting reality when it contradicts false narratives that have been pounded into their brains since childhood.

    This paragraph beautifully encapsulates the collapse of credibility in our institutions. The fact that it has spread to the general population is a more-than-troubling sign of societal decline. We no longer see people who disagree with us as Americans, but as enemies of the vision of America we cling to. The Left has their version(s), and the right has theirs.

    I wonder how it will end? Because end it must, we cannot go on forever like this.

    Democracy is a form of government that cannot survive without mutual trust.

    Exactly. If the voting choices of our neighbor, just to cite one example, have become “illegitimate,” we have crossed the Rubicon. I don’t think there’s much doubt that is the reality, not the warning.

  8. The only thing that’s come as a surprise to me is the complete fecklessness and incompetence of the military brass and the Secretary of Defense. I used to think the U.S. military was run by adults. Guess I was wrong. All those campaign ribbons on that guy’s coat are starting to look like Gilbert and Sullivan costumery. General Blowhard or something. That’s depressing.

  9. I’m not sure if this fits in your earlier post on Afghanistan or this one.

    This has all the elements of a Greek Tragedy. It starts with Hubris. The media, the Democrats and the US Elite all wanted rid of Donald Trump, no matter the cost. So, we were fed lies, distortions and rumor to remove him from office. An election was held in which there is strong evidence of vote manipulation, but anyone who questions the result of this election is immediately labeled a “conspiracy theorist” and a “threat to democracy”. A riot on January 6 was used to persecute anyone who was there and did not toe the party line. In regards to Covid, first the vaccines were not to be trusted, now they cannot be questioned. Masks are required, self isolation is required, except for the self styled elite, for whom those rules can be ignored on a whim. All of this has been supported by a compliant press corps. Military priority has shifted from fighting to “social justice” and “combating racism” and all that means for combat efficiency and readiness.

    Next. Hamartia, the tragic error in judgement. Unlike many commentators, I am convinced that the Biden administration and their supporters truly believed that Afghanistan would hold together AT LEAST 90 days. A lot can happen in 3 months, and that is ample time for allies to get out, civilians to be warned to evacuate and some sort of policy developed and implemented for those Afghans who helped the Americans. Although, to be honest, I am sure the Afghans were the lowest priority. After that, well, if you didn’t get out, you were warned this could happen. And it would surely be a tragedy if some Afghan allies were left behind, but that’s what happens sometimes. Plus, I’m convinced the Biden Administration was sure that by the time Kabul actually fell, it would be something barely (if at all) mentioned in the press, as it may make the Administration look bad, and they were convinced the press would never do that. (more hubris). Plans for worst case contingencies were obviously never developed as the Administration thought they wouldn’t be needed.

    We are now at Peripeteia. The reversal of fate due to the error in judgement. Instead of months Kabul and Afghanistan fell in days. The press is starting to turn against the Biden Administration. He’s gone back to, frankly, hiding, as it worked for him during the election, forgetting that the press was all too eager to cover for him then. Not so much now. There are congressional investigations. American allies are furious as they were never informed of the pull out and now they have to spend money, lives and treasure trying to evacuate their own civilians, with the American government trying to stop them as it makes the Biden Administration look bad. Especially when they succeed when Americans failed. Kamala Harris has gone to Vietnam for…reasons. Commentators are saying the wheels have come off the administration. Are calls for Biden to resign next?

    It remains to be seen if we reach the final aspect of Tragedy; Anagnorisis, when the hero of the story realizes the cause of his downfall. I expect in the next few years we will be treated to a number of books related to various people’s “harrowing escape from Afghanistan”. I highly doubt, however, that the domestic element to this will be recognized. The full force of the state will still be brought to bear on Trump supporters. After all, the Taliban in Afghanistan do not pose a fundamental threat to the Biden Administration, except in exposing their ineptitude. Trump supporters, however, are viewed as an existential and fundamental threat. Perhaps another Greek Tragedy is in the offing for the prosecution and persecution of Trump supporters. I would not doubt it.

    I now owe a formal apology to my Classics professor as I really never thought I’d use what she taught me in real life. The analogy only goes so far, though. Unlike a Greek Tragedy, the actors here cannot go backstage, take off their costumes and prepare for the next play, and the audience cannot go home entertained and educated. Both actors and audience in the real world will be living with the consequences of this tragedy (and I fear, others yet to come) for generations.

  10. Great comment SSM citizen but Lara Logan disagrees with your contention that; “I am convinced that the Biden administration and their supporters truly believed that Afghanistan would hold together AT LEAST 90 days.”

    According to Logan the idea that US Intelligence did not anticipate this is ludicrous and somehow connected to nuclear capable Pakistan. She expands to the southern border crisis, CRT, and violations of Big Tech, all of which could be reversed almost immediately but those who are pulling the strings choose not to.

  11. Even the chain of succession is scary. Biden, Harris, Pelosi, Schumer, that idiot Secretary of State. Here’s a real scary thought. Biden goes, Harris is anointed and picks her new VP–Hillary.

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