PATRICK LAWRENCE: The Mess They Made of 2023

Abroad and at home, ideology ruled the U.S.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Vice Adm. Brad Cooper arriving in Bahrain for a virtual Red Sea security meeting with representatives of dozens of countries and the E.U. and NATO on Dec 19. (DoD photo by Chad J. McNeeley)

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

Let us consider together the year gone past and arrive at some conclusions as to where it leaves us as we enter upon another. We can begin with two recent events that, to the naked eye, have nothing to do with one another. 

The first of these concerns what the Biden regime calls Operation Prosperity Guardian. The Pentagon described this last week as a coalition of 20–odd countries that have agreed to assist the U.S. to protect commercial traffic in the Red Sea from drone attacks mounted by Houthi rebels in Yemen, which — look at the map — chokes off the southern end of this key maritime passage. 

O.K., now let us turn our ever-nimble minds to another of last week’s news events.

Last Tuesday, Dec. 19, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Donald Trump is disqualified from running for president in the state’s Republican primary when this vote is held next year. It was a 4–to–3 decision in a court whose seven members were all appointed by Democratic governors. Citing the 14th Amendment, the judges found that Trump was guilty of participating in an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, when demonstrators protested the official election result the previous November and made their way, to their own apparent surprise, into the legislative chambers of the U.S. Congress. 

Distant as these developments may seem from one another, I read them as two halves of a whole. If we consider them this way, they tell us just where we are as 2023 gives way to 2024. As we examine the details, the story told is one of imperial decline abroad and institutional decay at home. 

It may not be immediately evident that the two are connected, but the one reflects the other, in my view. The imperium is collapsing, the imperium rots from within: This is our circumstance, in nothing less than black and white, as what is truly an annus horribilis draws to a close.

Lumbering Giant

You have to count Operation Prosperity Guardian a misbegotten creature from the start. If Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wanted to advertise the selfish narcissism of late-imperial America and its utter disregard for “the rest,” the Global South, the non–West, or whatever one wishes to call the global majority, he could not have chosen a better name. 

Topographic map of Red Sea. (Eric Gaba, Sting, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Coalitions have been the going thing in Washington for decades, of course. America must have coalitions to veil its hegemonic conduct. Even if these are typically not “coalitions of the willing” so much as coalitions of the coerced, Washington has usually succeeded in pulling together some kind of motley crew. 

Not this time, it seems. At least eight of the nations Austin cited in his head count last week decline to be named, leaving open the question whether these enlistees actually exist. The foot-shuffling among those named is impossible to miss. 

We favor freedom of navigation, the French say with brave originality, and we already operate in the Red Sea. So is France listed among Austin’s committed recruits.

The Italians responded to Austin’s invitation by saying they will send a frigate to the region to protect Italian shipowners who ask for assistance. The Spanish said they will participate only in NATO–led or European Union-led operations: In other words, no thank you, Secretary Austin. 


Predictably, client states such as Bahrain and nations part of the Anglosphere —Britain and Canada — are the only ones un-ambivalently onboard. Norway and the Netherlands said they would send a few naval officers to Manama — a ringing endorsement if ever there was one. 

There is the related question of what Operation Prosperity Guardian can actually get done. The U.S. has not so far retaliated against the Houthis, apparently out of fear of widening the Israel–Gaza crisis into a regional war. 

The Houthis have to date mounted 100–plus attacks on ships sailing the Red Sea, news reports tell us. They are firing drones they make for $2,000 each. In response the U.S. Navy is trying to shoot them down with missiles that cost $1 million to more than $4 million a copy.  

None of this is to suggest that the Red Sea situation is some grand turn in history’s wheel. No, it is more in the way of an illustrative tableau in which the U.S. features as the lumbering giant — weighted down with expensive technology it cannot afford to use and surrounded by court mandarins who tire of the imperial court.  

What Happened in Denver

Courtroom of the Colorado Supreme Court in the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center in Denver. (Jeffrey Beall, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0)

I rarely read and never thought I would quote the Republican–American, the Waterbury, Connecticut, daily that rivals the New Hampshire Union Leader for its crackpot conservatism. But I came across a copy of the Republican–American in a diner the day after the Colorado Supreme Court decision, and I actually bought the paper after reading “A real assault on democracy,” its lead editorial. 

Here is some of what it said:

“Americans should be thanking the Colorado Supreme Court for spelling out as clearly as possible the modern left-wing [sic] conception of democracy. To this cohort of Americans — animated by the idea that their opposition to Donald Trump grants them unchecked moral authority — preserving democratic rule means ensuring, by any means necessary, the people vote the right way. In other words, democracy is so sacred that it must be protected from the voters. Authoritarianism is so dangerous that it must be proactively employed to stop potential authoritarians…. 

In its 4–3 opinion, the majority ruled that the court somehow possesses the authority to determine, absent a criminal conviction, that former Mr. Trump [sic] committed insurrection and therefore is barred from running for president under the U.S. Constitution….

I cannot improve on the Republican–American’s account of what happened in Denver last week. Trump is convicted of nothing, but judges in solemn black robes rule him guilty of a major crime anyway. It is indeed as they have it in Waterbury: Liberals, self-licensed to break the law while invoking the law, are destroying the American judiciary. 

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And this seems to be far from over. Maine’s secretary of state, one Shenna Bellows, is to rule this week as to whether her state, following Colorado’s lead, should bar Trump from running next year. You have to love it that the corporate press has already edited out the fact that Trump has not been found guilty of any crime. 

I was cheered to find the editorial writers at the Republican–American using the term “liberal authoritarianism,” as they do elsewhere in the piece. I had thought this phrase was limited to commentators such as your columnist and publications such as Consortium News.

This is important, it seems to me. When a provincial daily owned by the same family for 113 years exhibits so clear a grasp of the American dynamic as it is in 2023, it follows that more people than you may think have a perfectly clear idea of what is driving the dissolution and decay they see all around them.

Meddling in Taiwan 

Night market in Taipei. (Wikimedia)

Night market in Taipei. (Wikimedia Commons, Public domain) 

I cannot imagine what President Joe Biden’s national security people tell themselves as they review the state of U.S. foreign policy, so god-awful a mess they have made of it. Relations with China as 2023 opened were the worst in decades, but we could at least speak of relations. 

By midyear, as the Biden regime escalated its meddling in the Taiwan Strait, announced technology embargoes intended to sabotage China’s economic development and insisted that a stray weather balloon was an espionage craft, there were no relations to speak of. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, now consider it an accomplishment when they can get the Chinese simply to talk to them. Heck of a job, Tony. Heck of a job, Jakie. 

Proxy War in Ukraine

Saint Michael Church in Avdiivka in the Donetsk region on April 1, 2023, during the battle for the city. (National Police of Ukraine, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0)

Having sunk more than $100 billion into the proxy war in Ukraine, the policy cliques now inch toward admitting all of it has been wasted in the cause of a failed misadventure. Relations with Moscow are truly nonexistent now, apart from what back-channeling may occur out of public view. After a year of foolish errors and misjudgments across both oceans, then, America has no productive relations with the two leading non–Western powers.

The narrative now emerging in Washington — I read this in The New York Times the other day — is that, yes, Washington’s open support for the genocide in Gaza has left it drastically isolated but that the world is with America in the Ukraine case. What nonsense. The great majority of humanity, as measured by population or a count of nations, stands as opposed to the U.S. for provoking and backing the proxy war in Ukraine as it does for its support of Israel’s barbarity.

The much-advertised frame defining Biden’s foreign policies — I will not call it a principle because it merely poses as one — is that the world is divided between democracies and autocracies and it is America’s duty to lead the former against the latter. We do not hear much anymore about this binary because it, too, proved a flop in 2023. Tony and Jake seem to find the theme too embarrassing to mention at this point — especially given that America is increasingly autocratic. 

Precluding Thought 

But we should consider the implications of this way of divvying up humanity in so simplistic a fashion. What does it tell us?

To me it sheds bright light on the extent to which ideology — liberal ideology, I mean — is the sole source of thinking among the Washington policy cliques. And I have just written incorrectly: The core purpose of ideology is to preclude all need of thinking of any kind.  

Ideology determines all. This is the reality with which the year now passing leaves us: Ours is an era ruled by unthinking ideologues. We have seen these past 12 months that there is no reference to law or — as the Israel–Gaza abomination reveals all too starkly — any notion of humanity or common decency. 

And it is the same at home as it is abroad. We can consider it this way: When the U.S. and its allies send the Kyiv regime cluster bombs and depleted uranium in defense of “freedom” and “democracy,” it is the foreign policy analogue of the Colorado Supreme Court breaking the law in the name of the law, just as the Waterbury Republican–American had it last week. 

The Waterbury Union Station clock tower is in Waterbury, Connecticut, 2022. (TRexEditorNJ, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

With this ruling, can it any longer be denied that the Biden regime and the rest of the Democratic elite have made profligate use of the judiciary this past year to keep Donald Trump out of the 2024 election? Is there any longer any discussion that the cases against Trump are sheer politics and have nothing to do with law?

In keeping with this, one of the worst features of the year on the domestic side has been the corruption of the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to protect Biden from being impeached for his very apparent if not yet proven participation in his son’s influence-peddling schemes with foreign clients. 

As I have argued severally in this space and elsewhere, when the judiciary lapses into corruption a nation lists toward failed-state status.   

Creeping censorship morphed into a censorship regime in the course of 2023. In the autumn the Twitter Files revealed the extent to which the liberal machine has collaborated with Silicon Valley, systematically and for many years, to suppress dissent in the name of “moral clarity.”

On July 4, of all days, a district court in Louisiana barred the White House and a long list of other federal agencies from all contacts with social media companies if the intent is to intimidate or otherwise coerce Twitter, Google, Facebook and other such platforms into deleting, suppressing, or in any way obscuring content protected as free speech, to paraphrase a key passage in the ruling. 

Ideology & Hubris  

Believe it or not, the Biden regime is fighting the Louisiana ruling with no shred of shame or embarrassment. This is ideology in action. And in my read, the years of attacks on free speech now prove the mulch from which sprouts the rampant suppression of the rights of those who stand in favor of the Palestinian cause. 

Ideology and hubris, not very distant cousins to one another, have been evident features of U.S. foreign policy for may years. This year put us on notice that they now rule without challenge. A frightened elite lacking in all vision can neither find its way out of the messes it has made nor retreat to allow voices to those with dynamic perspectives nor restore the moral superiority it has squandered—such as this last may have been.  

And as it is abroad, so it is at home. As I have heard over various dinner tables lately, the 2024 elections are very likely to prove a pandemonium. Can they be otherwise, given the rule of law may have so little to do with how they are conducted?      

“What I keep coming back to is the thought that none of us was raised or prepared to live in an Insane World,” a reader wrote recently in a comment thread. How very true this seems at the end of 2023. But we alive now are not the first to live in a condition of insanity. And others — sometimes, once in a while — have found their way beyond it. 

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, lecturer and author, most recently of Journalists and Their Shadows, available from Clarity Press or via Amazon.  Other books include Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored. 

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91 comments for “PATRICK LAWRENCE: The Mess They Made of 2023

  1. Steve
    December 30, 2023 at 12:12

    It is such a shame that the safety of the world is in the hands of deficient US leaders, be they Democrat or Republican.

  2. LeoSun
    December 30, 2023 at 11:32

    Well said, Patrick Lawrence!!! NO doubt, “Every elephant carries his own trunk!”

    AND, IMO, outta the f/gate, The Party of War, Biden-Harris, a political corpse posing as POTUS masquerading as human, waS in our face, 24/7, BANGIN’ THEIE WAR DRUMS!!!

    IMO, The Party of Jackasses & “all them Elephant bones,” aka the Party of Deception, Destruction and Death has played “We, the People,” like a f/fiddle.

    The misguided, f/up Republicans shoulda, coulda, woulda taken Biden-Harris out, in a f/heart beat!!! But, Corporate America has got ‘em by the gonads.

    “My country Tis of thee, sweet land of f/misery. To thee “we” sing,” F/WAR$!!!

    “Keep It Lit,”

  3. robert e williamson jr
    December 29, 2023 at 15:50

    Mr. Lawrence hit this one out of the park. Masterfully explaining with detail, ” what is going on”. ( Marvin Gaye album releases May 21, 1971).

    Great stuff Pat.

  4. Andrew
    December 29, 2023 at 13:59

    Very interesting article, Mr. Lawrence. Prosperity Guardian seems to be “I’ll do it if everyone else does” writ large. The Rules-Based International Order laid bare.

    But I think in talking about Colorado, you miss the Rules-Based National Order, or if you like, maybe the Rules-Based Domestic Order. No more founded on law than its international counterpart. As others have pointed out, the relevant section of the 14th Amendment only says: “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same [US Constitution], or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” There is no requirement of conviction. A vaguely-worded law that can be interpreted broadly, like much of the Constitution. Used by the ruling Elites to keep themselves in power. Trump, buffoon that he is, fell right into that trap and gave them just enough to use against him. Is it purely political to keep Trump out of the election? Yeah, because it’s an internecine fight between Elites rather than any true ideology.

    And when you say liberal authoritarianism, I assume you mean “liberal” meaning the centrist political flavor of the US [which I would argue most of these people are not “liberal” even by US standards], but it works for the larger ideology of Liberalism which has been dominant in the West for the last few centuries. As Liberal Democracy breaks down, Liberal Authoritarianism takes its place.

    But you are right in that next year will be a pandemonium, but more in its original sense of ‘all the demons’.

  5. nwwoods
    December 29, 2023 at 12:41

    Colorado ranks among the anti-free speech states. Coinydink?
    See Dec. 26 2023 Jonathon Turley post: “Are You in an Anti-Free Speech State? We Now Have The Definitive List”

  6. Caliman
    December 28, 2023 at 20:53

    So the suggestion I’ve heard from many Dem constitutional scholars seems to be that the 14th amendment puts down these conditions for presidency but does not require conviction or other due process to determine whether or not someone is disqualified.

    Alright, folks. Remember back in 2008 when people (including Trump) were saying that Obama was not born in the USA and thus was ineligible for running for prez? Well, we all laughed them off because of course he was eligible. But if proof and adjudication is not part of the process, then state supreme courts in all Repub states could have claimed that, based on their feeling on the matter (nothing else being needed), they were pretty sure Obama was born outside the US and thus not eligible to run. And, bam, thirty or so states could have eliminated the Dem frontrunner right there. Neat, no?

    This is the problem with making up some outlandish nonsense about insurrection and talking yourself into a tizzy … before long, you feel you have holy writ on your side and proof and innocence before guilt is some quaint and unnecessary artifact of the past … and that geese and gander need never exchange places.

  7. damien
    December 28, 2023 at 18:56

    The author is completely WRONG on the Colorado court decision. Despite the moral bankruptcy of both the Republicans and the Democrats this is not a mere politicking exercise.The legal issues are real and far beyond that of a “parking ticket” or a technicality. The Colorado court decision was based on the 14th Amendment passed after the Civil War to stop former Confederate officers from continuing the war by seeking public office. It does not require any criminal findings against a person for the amendment to have legal application. It has been previously succesfully applied.

    Sidney Blumenthal provides a comprehensive and compelling discussion of the legal issues in his Guardian article (Dec 26) “Will Trump provoke a crisis of legitimacy for the US supreme court?”

    • Caliman
      December 29, 2023 at 20:13

      Not requiring adjudication for such a ruling means the judges (and now apparently Sec of States) are free to interpret appropriateness of candidacy by complete whim …

      This is deranged on its face and only a true party loyalist like the execrable Sid Blumenthal could find a tortured justification for it.

    • hetro
      December 30, 2023 at 11:16

      Thank you for the link to the Blumenthal piece. It is fascinating. In my reading of it, Trump as undesirable extends beyond the Jan 6 “insurrection.” I’m putting quotation marks on this word because I’m still not clear what happened can be called that. I believe this is one of the key issues needing clarification in the discussion. Another is whether a court can assume the power to disqualify without a conviction, hence opening the way to special interest influence as to who is eligible to run for the top office.

      So, this analysis adds in and raises a number of crucial points while not hiding the author’s disdain for Trump.

      Quotes from the article I found provocative:

      *Trump’s candidacy for that second term now poses an existential threat to the legitimacy of the court’s conservative majority.

      *Trump’s appeal to the supreme court creates a crisis for the entire conservative methodology. If the court denies certiorari, declining to rule on the case, or upholds the Colorado decision, Trump would face disqualification cases in states across the country, throwing the election into chaos. The Republican sponsors of the conservative court are panicked and enraged. The Wall Street Journal, the veritable mouthpiece of justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, is loudly decrying the Colorado “folly”.

      The conundrum for the court is that it can rescue Trump only by shredding originalism and textualism. There is no more originalist and textualist case to be made than this one. But this time, the solidity of the case is not based on specious doctrine. Here the logic can rightfully be said to be rooted in history and the constitution.

      *Trump himself as president has called himself an “officer”. When he criticized the justice department for issuing sentencing guidelines to be applied to the criminal convictions of his close associates Roger Stone and Mike Flynn, Trump tweeted it was a “miscarriage of justice”. In the spirit of impunity, he proclaimed: “I’m actually the chief law enforcement officer of the country.” In fact, the president is not. The attorney general is the chief law enforcement officer. Nonetheless, Trump recognized himself as an “officer”, presumably under the United States. (Shortly after the incident, he pardoned Flynn and commuted Stone’s sentence.)

      *The motive behind Trump’s attempted coup and the secession of South Carolina and subsequent southern states that initiated the civil war were exactly the same: both of these events were driven by rejection of the results of a presidential election. Trump organized his coup to “stop the steal” before the election, just as the secessionists organized their actions before election day. The Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union stated on 24 December 1860, that its precipitating reason was “the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery”.

      *Most importantly, Trump’s defense did not challenge the account heeded by the Colorado courts; nor did it present “alternative facts” about January 6, a Kellyanne Conway defense. It offered no objection to ruling that January 6 was an insurrection and that Trump is an insurrectionist. But that only reinforces the inescapability of Trump’s actions for the US supreme court majority.

      *If the court grants Trump a reign of impunity as well as total immunity for his past actions, it will also be opening the gate for his stated intention to abrogate the constitution to establish a dictatorship in the future. Section three, established as the “self-defense” of the republic for the future, will be rendered meaningless.

      “Stated intention to abrogate the constitution to establish a dictatorship in the future”??? This is new to me.


  8. Lois Gagnon
    December 28, 2023 at 16:02

    The faltering US imperium is at a very dangerous point in its decline to be sure. No doubt, Russia and China understand this. Thankfully, their leaders have a cool pragmatic demeanor. If we manage to move through this phase to transition to a more rational government, we have them to thank for not succumbing to the threats against them from Washington. It’s up to those of us in the belly of the beast to find the means to get there. Great analysis as always Patrick.

  9. Vera Gottlieb
    December 28, 2023 at 15:06

    Isn’t it habitual for Yanx to make a mess no matter where they meddle??? If they would only ‘go home’ and stay home.

  10. Debs 4 President
    December 28, 2023 at 13:52

    In a democracy, a functioning democracy, the people have to have the final word on who they select as the leader. It can not be decided by judges or officials or police officers. In a democracy, the people have to have the ability to elect who they choose as the leader. That is fundamental. The fundamental principle of democracy is that the ultimate power of the nation lies in the hands of the people. If officials decide who is ‘eligible’ to be elected, then they have taken that power into their own hands, and the nation is no longer a democracy. Not that America is a democracy now, but this would make it even more official than the bullet in Daley Plaza.

    The fundamental question is whether the people have the right and ability to elect whom they choose to elect. Period.

    IIRC, in 1920, Eugene Debs ran for President, from a prison cell. His crime was to oppose a Democrat War. Debs, as a real Socialist, spoke out against war. He did this within the hearing distance of the tender ears of young potential draftees, which the Democrats had made a crime, and they sent Debs to prison. Thus, in 1920, Eugene Debs ran as the Socialist Candidate from his prison cell.

    I’d have voted for Debs.

    • damien
      December 28, 2023 at 19:16

      And if Debs had said that he would target his political enemies after coming to office by ordering Justice Department officials to do so would you have voted for him then?

      The US hasn’t been a functioning democracy since 2000. The Republican Party is a crime syndicate that has stolen multiple elections including the 2000 and 2004 Presidential contests. Former attorney general Alberto Gonzales brought false charges against political opponents and sacked federal attorneys who refused to prosecute them. Don Siegelmann, an innocent Alabama Governor, was jailed on trumped up charges instigated by Karl Rove, Bush’s senior political adviser. A Republican Party staffer who spoke out about it had her house burgled and was run down in the street. The “vote” is not the arbiter of anything other than a head count of the easily misled.

    • Anon
      December 29, 2023 at 18:35

      This individual reads (& at times Joins) CN Comment section…
      Ur Name (sir / ma’am) & concept… well… guess if some backwater court ruled legal: running while incarcerated… 3rd world enough conceptually 2 qualify as legislation at home (as ur article Mr Lawrence accurately & aptly states)!
      Tnx all 4 activist involvement thru CN Comments!

  11. Winnie
    December 28, 2023 at 13:25

    For decades I’ve been told by the Democrats that I had to vote for ‘the Lessor Evil’.

    Today, the Democrats are clearly the Greater Evil. They offer a World War for World Domination. The Democrats offer Genocide, open support for ethnic cleansing, for declaring that only some lives matter.

    I know I can not survive World War III.
    I might be able to survive a Trump Dictatorship.
    America might be able to survive a Trump Dictatorship.
    I know America will not survive World War III.

    The (D)’s have achieved their long-time goal, and have now not only caught but passed the Republicans on contest as to who is the Greater Evil. The Republicans have run long and hard to try to stay ahead, but it turns out that the combination of World War in a Nuclear Age, with Genocide on top is a trump card. (D) is for Greater Evil.

  12. Tom
    December 28, 2023 at 13:15

    “Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” –US Declaration of Independence

    Well, it seemed like a good idea. Wouldn’t it be great to have a government that is concerned with the Safety and Happiness of the people it ruled?

  13. Anthony C.
    December 28, 2023 at 12:05

    From a second Biden term we can expect more unjustified military involvement, more environmental degradation and many more negatives as we have experienced. What can we expect from a second Trump term and perhaps a third Trump term as well

    • J Anthony
      December 29, 2023 at 07:42

      Yes I expect it to be clear to all by now that Biden/Trump=Lose/Lose, but still am surprised at how many are caught up in the partisan horse-race mindset.

  14. Mark Stanley
    December 28, 2023 at 11:02

    Well said. I am not one to nit-pic, and I agree the intensity of insanity has progressed to the highest threshold in my life.
    However, it’s always been with us. Yesterday, I wrote a chapter gleaned from William Shirer’s excellent The Fall of the Third Republic. Here’s an excerpt:
    {1914} In the beginning of August, Germany declared war on Russia, France, and Belgium.
    Learning the news, cities in Germany and Austria exploded with joy and celebration. Bells rang, confetti fell, marching bands played, songs were sung, men ran through the streets hugging one another in excitement, recruitment offices became overwhelmed, and beer halls were packed with men rejoicing. How wonderful! We are going to war!
    Maria couldn’t believe it. She looked up at the sun just to make sure. Had she woke up that morning in a different reality, or perhaps another twisted universe? Perhaps they’ve all gone berserk after eating Norwegian mushrooms, she thought.
    Are they completely insane?
    Men, normally rational, practical creatures, seemed to have abandoned all forms of reason. The most frightening part was that, caught up in the excitement of it all, some of the women celebrated as well. It was the first time in her life that she considered the possibility of leaving this planet—to where, she knew not.
    (I may scratch the mushrooms comment)

    • Red Star
      December 28, 2023 at 15:39

      ” Had she woke up that morning in a different reality, or perhaps another twisted universe?”

      I’ve been increasingly wondering about that myself. Has there been some kind of reality shift ? It’d explain a lot….

  15. Tim N
    December 28, 2023 at 10:46

    I want Trump to be President again (from reading some of the comments here and elsewhere by liberals and even leftists, one would think he was the President now). Why? Because when Trump was President, liberals and goo-goo Dems were suddenly wide-awake and down-right fiesty over things like immigration policy, domestic concerns like Med4All, looming threats of war, and yes, even free speech (!). Facebook** was alive and crawling with screeds against Trump’s latest anti-democratic outrages and criminality. Millions of people seemed to actually understand that politics mattered, many of them for the first time in their lives. Then Cracker Joe* got elected, and liberals and Dems went back to sleep, and asleep they remain. Could Trump be worse than Biden? Possibly. And we may see.

    *My first apt nickname for our imbecile racist president, now replaced (world-wide!) with “Genocide Joe.”
    **With Trump in place, maybe sites like Facebook will see clear to easing their speech restrictions, especially with regards to Israel. Maybe.

    • J Anthony
      December 29, 2023 at 07:43

      Seems it was all a show. Where did all this authenticity go once Biden was in office? To the bank.

  16. hetro
    December 28, 2023 at 10:22

    As Patrick says, “The man is not the question; the question is legal principle.”

    The relevant section of the 14th amendment:

    “Section 3
    No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any
    office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

    Maybe the commenters critical of Patrick can take us beyond simple assertions of disagreement and generalizations. I have tried to follow this case to find what Trump did that constitutes “engaged in insurrection or rebellion.” (BTW I am very critical of Trump, basically viewing him as an incompetent egoist.) I see he made an inflammatory speech on Jan 6, which included the imprecation to demonstrate “peacefully.” I am very vague on what criminal action he engaged in with vote-counting. His sin appears to belong in the realm of “freedom of speech.”

    Feel free to set me straight on this. Backing up with specifics, and links detailing the case, would also help.

  17. December 28, 2023 at 10:11

    The Democratic Party’s most recent legacies, added to the tally that includes slavery, world war I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam “police action” (kind of like a special military operation gone horribly wrong), the Libyan disaster, the Syrian disaster, the overthrow of democratic governments in Honduras, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, the Ukraine, Egypt, etc., the genocide in Yemen, ….

    Now, that political party has destroyed even the appearance of “democracy” in the United States.

    Isn’t it time for real liberals and real progressives and even, just decent people to stop being enablers of all of the foregoing, whose blood stains their hands? To shift to another political party (and I am not suggesting the GOP)?

    • robert e williamson jr
      December 28, 2023 at 14:47

      One would think so.

      What we see here, I believe is nothing other than the direct result of the SCOTUS ruling giving money free reign in politics.

      In your last paragraph you ask, “Isn’t it time for real liberals and real progressives and even, just decent people to stop being enablers of all of the foregoing, whose blood stains their hands? To shift to another political party (and I am not suggesting the GOP)?”

      Any court especially the SCOTUS should have been honest, they were not. No sugar coating something so serious to the survival of the country and the Constitution should be allowed.

      The Supreme Court of the Unites States of America sold out to the highest bidders. We need no look for anything other than selling out. Simply engage in a study of the saga of one Clarence Thomas and his wife.

      The most recent revelations, those about his conversation with congressman about his pay! Then add things up!

      Thanks to you /Sir and CN

    • Susan Siens
      December 28, 2023 at 16:34

      I’m just finishing up Weaponizing Anti-Semitism by Asa Winstanley (OR Books). This is probably the single best book I have read explaining why we are not going to have alternative political parties. Once upon a time I was very involved with antiwar and other leftist activities, and what did I find? A bunch of (primarily) men vying for position, denigrating anyone who was working-class because they didn’t act bourgeois enough, pushing and shoving each other and everyone else. I love the image my BIL shared with me of Rennie Davis arriving at Grant Park in a limousine!

      There will be no change, no alternative, until people stop acting like neoliberals and realize they need to check their egos at the door and work together. As long as political activity is seen as a ladder to climb, you’ll get the same scum rising to the top. And scum are always easily bought and willing to sell out.

      • LarcoMarco
        December 28, 2023 at 22:45

        Rennie knows limos. After he joined Maharaj Ji’s cult in Oregon, he stated, “Since the Messiah was a poor carpenter during his last appearance on earth, it’s only right for him to own eight Rolls Royces this time around.”

  18. Jimm
    December 28, 2023 at 09:32

    Another observant PL article. It is sad how his comments on our corrupt judiciary are viewed by some as supportive of Trump. More than ever the US of A is run by the motto “we lie, we cheat, we steal”, an admission compliments of one Mike Pompeo, former Trump cabinet member. The lying is rampant, the sand is pouring through our hourglass.

  19. Piotr Berman
    December 28, 2023 at 09:27

    Liberal ideology is a hollow shell. Washington liberals have a collection of slogans, few genuinely liberal causes (e.g. reproductive freedom, universal healthcare), favorite boondogles (e.g. electric vehicles) and expansive dreams of power: world order in which THEY issue orders. INTERESTINGLY, a decade or more ago it was supposed to be LIBERAL rule based world order, bit the word “liberal” was dropped… The mess and serious mayhem caused by this conceit masquerading as ideology is well covered in Consortium News, so I will rant a bit about boondoggles.

    The largest boondoggle by far is an approximation of universal health care (truly universal in some states, but not in all) that is build on top of private corporations that operate with no competition and no cost controls. For this reason, healthcare consumes double of the GDP share compared to Australia, with inferior outcomes. This excess (i.e. half of GDP share consumed by healthcare) is higher than the funds spent/wasted on the military, and it is the only reason why funding of healthcare program is “not secure” in spite of dedicated taxes and entitlements. Single payer and open minded national level management could improve the outcomes, decrease the cost (if not to Australian levels…), and decrease stress of sick and not-so-healthy Americans who never know how large bills they will need to pair.

    The second boondoggle I want to describe is green transition, a cause I agree with, but distorted in a similar direction as health care: decrease the benefits and maximize corporate profits. For example, hybrid sedans consume half of energy on conventional cars in usual traffic, i.e. not long distance on divided highway where efficient versions of conventional cars are as good. Importantly, the costs of hybrids dropped to be the same as conventional cars, at least for Honda and Toyota that enjoys some premium price because of their reputation for quality. The costs of electric vehicles is out of bounds of the majority of population, in part because they are dominated by luxury models, oversized and overpowered. EVs require new infrastructure and an illusion of being “carbon-free”. Until our electricity generation is carbon-free, at least in majority, EVs waste resources. Vastly larger carbon savings and with hardly any additional cost would be a massive transition to hybrid vehicles scaled more precisely to actual needs of Americans.* Celebrities could be invited to help?

    A parallel boondoggle is transition to electric trucks. A long distances, USA under-utilizes railroads that consume MUCH LESS energy per ton of cargo per mile. Simple transition to railroads by restoring former capacity (and service quality) and judicious expansion would be hugely more effective. It would also remove many supply chain bottlenecks, e.g. with ocean ports. That would require a fight with railroad oligopoly, not as powerful as military-industrial complex or united-health-businesses, but powerful enough to divert the attention of liberals. So restoring the former role of railroads (which are inherently more efficient and easy to electrify) is a low hanging fruit from technological point of view, but apparently impossible in liberal-business-lobby world.

    The shell of liberal ideology is not exactly empty, it is filled with lobbies that secure income streams to their clients.

    • J Anthony
      December 29, 2023 at 07:48

      Goes to show, idealism and capitalism does not go together, no matter how hard either liberals or conservatives pretend they are synonymous.

  20. ThisOldMan
    December 28, 2023 at 08:31

    “I cannot improve on the Republican–American’s account of what happened in Denver last week. Trump is convicted of nothing, but judges in solemn black robes rule him guilty of a major crime anyway.”

    Not sure what country Patrick is from, but in the USA judges often have the discretion to declare someone “guilty” (of contempt of court, to name just one example). It is, of course, true that in criminal case the defendant has the right to trial by jury, but Trump is fighting tooth and nail to avoid just that on multiple fronts right now, all while running for president. On top of that, the 14th amendment pretty clearly does not require a criminal conviction in order to be applied. Patrick may think that’s not a good thing, and he’s certainly entitled to his opinion on such matters. But regarding the laws of the land, he’s not entitled to his own facts.

    • Patrick Henry
      December 28, 2023 at 13:39

      Yep, Innocent Until Proven Guilty was a really bad idea.

      It gets in the way when you really, really want to lock someone up. Or when you want to do a Bolosonaro and rig an election via Lawfare so the most popular candidate can’t run. Avoids those cases like Gaza where the ‘wrong’ people can win the election.

      So, the moderns view “Innocent Until Proven Guilty” as an inconvenience. As America’s Nobel Prize winning Poet once said “A hard rain is gonna fall”, then after that, people might remember why it was a good idea, as they lay flowers on the graves of those who were never proven guilty, never got to be judged by a jury of their peers, but suffered the punishment anyways.

      Free Speech, right to be secure in our papers, innocent until proven guilty … all these old ideas are just so inefficient, when we have to make the trains run on time and make sure nobody is ever exposed to ‘disinformation’.

      • Piotr Berman
        December 29, 2023 at 15:17

        “… we have to make trains run on time …”, are you a fascist or a commie? Trains running on time IS NOT THE AMERICAN WAY.

    • nwwoods
      December 28, 2023 at 14:24

      Not sure what country “ThisOldMan” is from, but perhaps he/she can point out the wording in the 14th Amendemnet which specifically asserts that “the judiciary shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

    • James White
      December 29, 2023 at 04:19

      “Trump is convicted of nothing, but judges in solemn black robes rule him guilty of a major crime anyway.”

      ‘the 14th amendment pretty clearly does not require a criminal conviction in order to be applied.’
      ‘not entitled to his own facts.’
      ‘pretty clearly’

      “Let the jury consider their verdict,” the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.?“No, no!” said the Queen. “Sentence first—verdict afterwards.”?“Stuff and nonsense!” said Alice loudly. “The idea of having the sentence first!”

  21. December 28, 2023 at 08:15

    I agree with your analysis Patrick, but have one contention that you should consider. Let me pose it this way, if a bank robber insisted to you that he was a policeman, would you start referring to him as a policeman? I don’t think so. So when hyper-conservative Blue Team war-mongers call themselves “liberals” why do you concur? They are, at best, Neolibs that act and think just like Neocons. Neolibs and Neocons are just organized crime families fighting over turf. Please reread Miriam Webster’s definition of “liberal” (e.g., “open-minded”) and then ask yourself does that describe Biden and his Blue Team entourage? No it doesn’t. So please, come up with something to call them that doesn’t make it seem like you are calling the bank robber a policeman. And keep up your great writing, it is always illuminating.

    • Onlooker
      December 28, 2023 at 16:30

      That’s the MERRIAM-Webster dictionary you are referring to.

    • Susan Siens
      December 28, 2023 at 16:40

      Great comment! I do use the term “liberal” though its use has nothing to do with your dictionary definition. I use it because it’s how people describe themselves (you know, the survey people who ask if you are very liberal, liberal, conservative, very conservative) and I figured out long ago it has little meaning. Mostly it seems to be people willing to believe any charlatan in a white coat or a suit, people who find questioning anything scary. Right now they are signing on to pedophilia (sorry, minor-attracted persons), Nazism (our Nazis!), censorship, and everything else authoritarian because they are very frightened that the world they thought they lived in is crumbling.

  22. TP Graf
    December 28, 2023 at 06:52

    I guess people see what they want to see. I don’t get all the comments regarding Trump and how they seem to think Patrick is defending/supporting him. It seemed pretty clear to me and a point made by many legal experts, that the Colorado court way overstepped its bounds by convicting the accused without a trial. By getting the cart before the horse, all they’ve done is throw raw meat to the MAGA crowd and opened a big can of worms, which I suspect the Supreme Court will put back in the can as much as can be done in this lawfare/warfare State.

    • J Anthony
      December 29, 2023 at 07:51

      Exactly. It was a stupid move, politically, but is to be expected from today’s Democrats. This has only served to fire up Trump’s insane cult-following more, and won’t help them.

  23. Francis Lee
    December 28, 2023 at 06:16

    Russia did not want this war, a war which was initiated in Independence Square with the active participation of the main actors, Victoria Nuland, Geoffrey Pyatt, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) et al., and so forth. Okay, so let’s run through it – again!

    The war began in earnest in 2014 with the infusion of street-fighting thugs who had descended on Kiev from all points west. By all accounts the majority of the protesters were middle-class moderates, but Svoboda (neo-fascists) had a strong influence on the dynamics of the protest. A giant portrait of Stepan Bandera hung to the left of the stage at Independence Square. Before and after every speech, the speaker would shout ”Glory to the Ukraine,” to which the crowd would respond, ”’Glory to the Heroes of Ukraine’ the slogan of the former OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists).

    There followed a pitched battle between the riot police (the Berkut) which the street-fighting Right Sector thugs won. A neo-fascist state which had emerged and were the heirs of Stepan Bandera OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and Roman Shukeyvich UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army). Phase 2 The New Order was the made ready for the war which began with the invasion of the Eastern Ukraine. But things did not go quite so well for the legions of the New Order.

    In the Eastern oblasts Donetsk and Lugansk, the workers began to arm themselves. Initially, Russia and Putin remained somewhat aloof from the fray. But the Ukies got short shrift and were given a lesson in Partisan warfare by the Russian-speaking locals. This was 2014/15. The Ukie army retreated from the battlefield, licking their wounds after the battles of Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo – this was 2015.

    Having had another shot at the Eastern Oblasts the Ukies tried again. This time they were more successful but they couldn’t breech the defences, particularly around Donetsk. These were hardened Russians speakers and no any easy pushover. Up to this point Putin had kept aloof. But the fact of Russian speakers and workers were under attack from the historical political enemy: A this point Putin and Russia stepped in.

    The rest is history as they say… Apart from the fact that the Russians were double-crossed by NATO leaders Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel in Turkey: Once bitten twice shy.

  24. James White
    December 28, 2023 at 05:14

    ‘the corruption of the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to protect Biden from being impeached for his very apparent if not yet proven participation in his son’s influence-peddling schemes with foreign clients.’
    It has been proven that Joe Biden received payments directly from Hunter Biden and his brother James Biden’s bank accounts. The bank records are not in dispute. Joe Biden can only offer flimsy excuses for both sets of payments. Joe Biden claims that the $240,000 he received from his brother’s account were ‘loan repayments.’ But no written agreement or other documentation exists to prove Joe Biden’s claim. Would the IRS accept an explanation like this from any other taxpayer for income received without any evidence to support the claim of a ‘loan?’
    The Biden family openly traded on access to Vice President Joe Biden to amass payments from foreign interests of over $24 million. But no member of Biden’s family has offered any explanation for why representatives of foreign governments and foreign business interests were so eager to supply the Biden ‘family’ with such astounding wealth. The actions of the Biden crime family meet the definition of racketeering under the RICO laws. The actions of the Biden crime family do not demonstrate any explanation for these payments other than foreign influence peddling.
    In addition to the $24 million in direct payments, millions of dollars were laundered to Joe Biden and Biden cronies such as Anthony Blinken from China through the ‘Penn Biden center’ at the University of Pennsylvania. Why would China have any interest in funding Joe Biden and future members of his administration? Does anyone believe that the Chinese government would lavish millions on Joe Biden while requiring nothing in return for such an extravagant ‘gift?’
    How is all of this foreign cash any different than what Senator Robert Menendez is being prosecuted for? In both cases, the cash received is proven and cannot be denied. In both cases, the only reasonable explanation is that the persons who paid Biden and Menendez expected influence from both office holders in return for the payments.

  25. Altruist
    December 28, 2023 at 03:16

    Superb analysis by Patrick Lawrence of the current mess, and unlike some of the other commenters I can subscribe fully to what is said here, in particular concerning January 6, Trump, Ukraine and the rising censorship regime.

    My favorite part of this essay, which deserves to be cited by future authors, is the observation that ideology — liberal ideology — is the sole source of thinking among the Washington policy cliques and that the core purpose of ideology is to preclude all need of thinking of any kind. How true. And how easy it is for conformists and second-rate intellects just to parrot the tenets of the ideology, as opposed to thinking for themselves and seeing the world as it really is – which certainly would have career risks. This could explain people like Blinken and Sullivan – instead of just being vacuous hypocrites, they may actually believe what they are saying and doing.

    Of course, this is nothing new. “Ideologies” have been around for a long time – going back to the rigid religious dogmas of yore and reaching their secular apogees in the civil religions of fascism and communism. And with the current “liberal” or “neoconservative” ideologies we are back in a similar straitjacket. On the one hand, the ruling powers want this; on the other hand, it is human nature to crave acceptance and belonging, and easier to be intellectually lazy.

    The people – to be free – need to break out of such confining ideologies. In the words of Voltaire, “écrasez l’infame”. Freedom is not only physical, it is intellectual. As Lawrence points out in his recent book, honest journalism and specifically the independent media provide a possible solution. Provided that the door doesn’t close shut on them. There have been numerous times in history when brief flowerings of intellectual and artistic freedom have been followed by rigid ideological clampdowns.

    Perhaps the re-emergence of a disruptor like Trump will improve the situation – there is a reason the establishment hates and fears him so much. Or the simple failure of current policies – for example, loss of the Ukraine war after spending far over 100 billion dollars and countless Ukrainian lives – will spur questioning of the ruling ideologies. Then the persons with contrary views – think of the foreign policy realist John Mearsheimer – can say “I told you so”. But more likely, as after the Vietnam and Iraq wars, there will be no accounting, no reckoning with the people who created the mess who will instead be promoted, and life will go on as before.

  26. Dr. Hujjatullah M.H.Babu Sahib
    December 28, 2023 at 00:51

    Lawrence has typed out a highly responsible reflective year-end piece here obviously addressed to still sane minds out there. I particularly love the quip extracted from his above comment thread quote. Now just to follow it on : the sane world was built up out of legitimate NEED but the ongoing insane world is egressing from illegitimate neo-liberal GREED. So, if it is not going to be clock-work 2024 then it would be welcome to cock-work 2024 !

  27. Dozer
    December 27, 2023 at 22:42

    I liked the article, Patrick. You hit a lot of key points. I think the points are important, regardless of the names of the people or countries. A lot of the foreign policy stays the same regardless of which party or person is in office. The legal issues are troublesome regardless of the party or person.

  28. Joseph Tracy
    December 27, 2023 at 22:18

    Despite my agreement with critical comments on the Trump issue, I agree that there is a serious connection between media and government censorship, authoritarianism, and domestic lawlessness within US borders and the same tactics abroad. It is most clearly seen wherever there is a strong domestic unity in opposition to actual policies: Israel/Palestine, single payer health care, proxy wars and geopolitical and economically inspired wars, the military budget, the 80% opposition to bank bailouts in 2008, unrestrained bribery in Congress, assault weapons, the electoral college, the continual erosion of debt limits, the shift of wealth to the .1% elite.

  29. SteveK9
    December 27, 2023 at 21:48

    Excellent summary. The only small critique is the use of the phrase ‘crackpot conservatism’ … today there is no such thing.

  30. Arrnon
    December 27, 2023 at 21:04

    Here is Lawrence’s weird logic:

    A) Trump has been convicted of nothing, he just has an open track-record of insurrectionist activity which he brags about for votes. Why is he being persecuted?

    B) Biden has been convicted of nothing — Yet! Why are the Feds not going after him harder?

    And BTW, after Trump claiming the entire electoral process is a sham from beginning to end of his presidency, which he did nothing to fix during his presidency, and while helped the GOP further bash every branch of Gov over the head while wrecking the country in general, Trump is now bitching that the system doesn’t want him!


    Republicans in 1980 to America: Gov sucks and is evil. Send me to Gov.

    Repulicans in 2020: Why does Gov suck so much, keep voting for us!

    The GOP has a track record of screwing with everything they can seven-ways to Sunday. Trump’s legal team truly pulled out all the stops with shameful tactics and devastating results. They have been wrong about everything.

    For enjoyment of the finer points, please do re-listen to Trump’s meeting with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office where he’s openly confabulating and string-arming to get the results “fixed.” You don’t need a deep-state conspiracy to explain it. He spells it out. The vote must be given to him contrary to the entire proper functioning of the state’s electorate as a political favor. And that was just one stop on Trump’s circuit.

    Then there’s the little matter of a sitting President asking his supporters to disrupt the electoral process at the highest level of protocol and demanding that his own VP not certify results of a fraudulent election, for which not only has Trump contingent provided zero evidence of election mishandling against him—while openly decrying through multiple organs that entire electoral process is a sham—but the only evidence of voter fraud found after an epic witch-hunt was fraud at the hands of Republicans.

    As to the lawfulness and the privilege of the Presidency: The office is substantially beyond the law, and the history of the offices affords extraordinary shielding from culpability in every domain. When it comes to the lawfulness of the Presidency, the only real measures are political. The office was designed that way. But it doesn’t run like computer. It actually matters whether the President is a good or bad man. Trump is not a good man.

    But Trump serves a very important purpose to business power. The Republican/Democrat Gemini twins of the U.S.A.’s business party openly operate as good-cop-bad-cop, where the Republicans are the bad-cop. So there’s nothing to fight for here regarding countering the lawlessness of Democrats because the Republicans are worse! The Democrats are conservative because they want business to continue to dictate the direction of the nation. The Republicans are manic reactionaries whose job has become making sure the Democrats don’t ever get confused into doing anything on behalf of the people. It works well for business.

    The idea of Trump as a populist is ridiculous. In 2015 he spelled it out: I BUY VOTES!

    People stupidly went along with his perverse claim to fix a corrupt system because he was a master of that system. We’re a nation of retards.

    As to ideology, believing what you told is not a primary pathology of ideology. The pathology of ideology is with intellectuals who use double-speak to maintain overt cognitive dissonance get others to believe something that is contrary to their interests. Ideology is the quadrant of the “unknown knowns” whereby writers cannot examine their own beliefs for consistency and proffer obvious double-standards on behalf of power.

    Today there is nothing more purely ideological than that Trump should be allowed to eat the nation’s heart out because Democrats have no regard for law.

    Trump has no one to blame but himself for his political misfortune. There were an infinite number of ways for him to succeed and he’s had every advantage, but he’s chosen to dig a giant hole and throw himself into it. The only reason we can still see his orange head bobbing above grade is because of the enormous pile of Republican brain-eating zombies who run under Trump’s feet to prop him up.

    The choice between Biden and Trump is a prime indicator of a broken nation, but Trump’s party is what’s dragging everything down! And the Republicans are systematically designed to function in a degenerative way. He’s a political vampire who ensures standing on the shoulders of an electorate of Republican zombies.

    I just don’t know how Lawrence could be any more wrong than in this hopelessly misguided ideological screed, but praise-be to any “conservative” who might one day choose to not lay his zombie body under Trump’s heels in the name of “lawfulness”.

  31. December 27, 2023 at 19:46

    @Patrick Lawrence
    Your intelligently expressive prose is always informative and entertaining good sir?; however, crafting one’s self as an adversary of authoritarianism whilst advocating on behalf of the likes of a clown ? like “the Trumpster” is a tad disappointing ? !?
    As Usual,

    • Joseph Tracy
      December 27, 2023 at 21:52

      Agree. The Trump assertions don’t hold water. Trump definitely interfered in illegal ways in Georgia and elsewhere. Trying to get an election official to “find” votes should disqualify anyone from running for office. I hope he goes to jail for that and tax fraud, not for his Jan 6 speech, but I hope Biden too goes to jail for nepotism and selling influence.. But the republicans love the wars as much as the Democrats, and Trump did little to curb that. The reasoning in the Colorado decision is bogus and political but Trump really did try to seize power through lies about election fraud. The republicans have used this fake issue to limit citizens of color from voting.

      • GBC
        December 28, 2023 at 16:41

        I think your response ignores some important, but overlooked facts on the “insurrection”. It was a “color revolution” brought home. Few have asked why there were so few police and security in place beforehand. Any protest I’ve attended near any federal building always had a full complement of security in place. Not this time however. Why was that? Second: there is extensive evidence that among the “insurrectionists were agents provocateurs–national security types egging on the protesters. This fact makes the Jaan.6 insurrection a domestic color revolution–one more effort cooked up the national security state to de-legitimize Trump, just like Russiagate before it.

    • December 27, 2023 at 22:12

      Thom, Frank, & others.
      I see I have provoked respsnses to my thoughts on the Colorado decision. Keeping my reply brief, Id’ve written the same were the person in question the most elevated among us. The man is not the question. Preservation of legal principle is the quesiton.
      Others among readers leave me in doubt. If the 14th condemns those who “engage,” how is the finding of engagement to be determined if not by legal finding?
      I take this opportunity to greet all thos reading and commenting with a New Year’s best wish.

    • J Anthony
      December 28, 2023 at 08:19

      Was that meant as a defense of Trump? Or was he just stating objectively what is happening, regardless of if it’s Trump or anyone else?

      • daryl
        December 29, 2023 at 16:34


  32. Frank Lambert
    December 27, 2023 at 19:30

    Of the many well researched, poignant, factual events the always astute Patrick Lawrence has written in 2023, int is, in my opinion, his most important article, as P.L. describes a crumbling empire, with an inept government and appointees pretending to be statesmen and stateswomen who at best, are insignificant representatives of the United States, Most of the world’s nations have seen the killing and maiming, the destruction, of infrastructure and the misery and suffering Imperial America has inflicted on nations which haven’t the means to take on the “world’s only (and biggest) super-bully” in the first 23 years of the 21st century.

    It’s always tens of billions for the war machine, but never billions for Social Security increases, Medicare and Medicaid increases, civil service projects for infrastructure upgrades, and even the US Postal Service that the Trump big campaign contributor, Louie DeJoy is doing his best to destroy in order to privatize it. Ben Franklin would surely be “turning in his grave” to use that cliche’.

    I differ with Patrick on Trump, whom I’d never vote for, as a victim of the DemoRAT Party cabal who are just as despicable as the Repulsive Party in trying to keep Trump off of as many ballots as they can for fear their shining knight in armor, slimy Joe Biden, who never saw a war he didn’t like, or the murderous Jews or Zionist he literally swears allegiance to, would lose to Trump. Money talks! Right?

    WE are witnessing in this third decade of this century the “decline of the American Empire.” If anybody really wants to “make America great again” (MAGA) they need to abandon the duopoly of the Repulsive/DemoRAT Party and vote for alternative party candidates otherwise things and conditions will continue to deteriorate in the U.S. and abroad. This is my perspective on current events, or what Mr. Lawrence has written in this article.

  33. hetro
    December 27, 2023 at 19:00

    Is it not clear to them, and a reason for them to be frightened, that increasing numbers of the people are not fooled by their brazen violations of common sense and honesty? The “system” is not admired or beloved; it is tolerated cynically. That’s my guess. People are waiting for an opportunity–such as a decent candidate for next year’s president. Meanwhile, Patrick’s remark that the system is not being challenged needs also to consider all the speaking out that’s happening–as with right here on this site and spread massively elsewhere, the volume of critical comment, the controlled but simmering disgust over this “they rule without challenge.”

    • J Anthony
      December 28, 2023 at 08:28

      “The ‘system’ is not admired or beloved, it is tolerated cynically.” Perfectly put. That is exactly how most people feel. Until we can come up with a more intelligent and rational, even humane way to organize a modern society, people deal with it with resigned frustration best they can. The only people still venerating the “free market” status quo of today are those who managed to become filthy rich, and that is not a majority. I could be wrong but I think more people are waking up everyday to the hypocrisy and inhumanity of the current order.

  34. Stephen Kaye
    December 27, 2023 at 18:49

    Are you suggesting that we (the U.S.) should not support Ukraine in its defense of the Russian offensive? While I am of the opinion that the U.S. made a tragic mistake in making a fuss over Russia’s acquisition of Crimea, once we had taken a positon we were committed to
    pursue that line. We made another mistake in not recognizing that Crimea could have been a negotiating opportunity with a peaceful settlement the goal. Once Russia attacked, we really had no alternative but to come to Ukraine’s aid. We might have been more generous with our best weapons which might have crippled the Russian attack more effectively than what transpired. We are now orchestrating a stalemate that has been very costly in lives and cash, and we see no way out. What policy would you propose?

    • gcw919
      December 27, 2023 at 21:27

      If memory serves, I cannot recall Russia making much noise about taking back Crimea prior to the meddling of Victoria Nuland and company to overthrow the Ukrainian government in 2014.. With the coming of a new regime, leaning towards NATO, Russia saw a threat of NATO moving into Sevastopol, and posing a threat to the Russians in the Black Sea. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is indefensible, but there are reasons why these events take place.
      As for the current mess in Ukraine, many analysts see no possibility of Ukraine retaking territories they have lost, so sending more money and weapons for a hopeless cause will only lead to more troops being butchered, and for what? One seldom hears talk of negotiation coming out of Washington, and the current clowns responsible for American “foreign policy,” but anything that will end the bloodshed should be a top priority.

    • Joseph Tracy
      December 27, 2023 at 22:00

      Ukraine attacked the Russian speaking people of the Donbass with serious military violence well before Russia attacked. When they were losing that internal Ukrainian conflict they signed the Minsk accords with the representatives of the Donbass. But as admitted by participant witness Angela Merkel , the government in Kiev never planned to keep the agreement they signed and used the truce to prepare new attacks which were underway when Russia intervened. You seem to have accepted a very one-sided picture of the history.

    • firstpersoninfinite
      December 28, 2023 at 00:26

      Instead of being “more generous with our best weapons,” we might not have agreed to help real Nazis in Ukraine kill or maim 14,000 people who considered themselves Russian, nor should we have used a revolution we fomented (the Maidan) to remove a democratically elected leader of Ukraine. We might not have undermined the Minsk accords (along with the rest of NATO) to make certain that a war which would decimate Ukraine was inevitable. We might not have encouraged, or at least not allowed, NATO nations to lie about their support of the Minsk accords for eight years before the invasion while pushing arms into Ukraine. We might not have allowed Boris Johnson to wreck any chance of peace in Ukraine over a year ago, only to prove the US capable of guaranteeing a war which it wanted and the UK made certain happened. Supporting Ukraine in defense of the Russian offensive (although 150,000 Ukraine troops were amassed already on the borders of the two runaway, Russian Republics) only means that our government found them capable of sacrifice to our own, foreign policy initiatives. Weakening Russia was the goal – Ukraine was the means. Stop ignoring facts and wasting time and lives on propaganda already debunked.

      • gbc
        December 28, 2023 at 16:44

        Well put.

    • Paul Greenwood
      December 28, 2023 at 03:12

      UN Security Council Resolution 2202

    • Robert
      December 28, 2023 at 04:48

      “What policy would you propose?” Acknowledge that the US has been attempting for over 2 decades to get Russia into a war somewhere, anywhere. Acknowledge that the vast majority of non Western governments are either neutral or favor Russia in this war. Acknowledge that the US grossly underestimated Russia’s ability, its economy and its military, to overcome our illegal sanctions. Acknowledge that Ukraine cannot defeat Russia and cannot even reclaim any land currently controlled by Russia. Accept that Ukraine needs to replace Zelinsky and that the new Ukrainian government must go to the negotiating table and accept a settlement ceding territory to Russia. And finally, acknowledge that the US will no longer continue to be the worlds policeman, and to agree to drop out of NATO, and to pledge to reduce its Department of Defense budget by 50% within 5 years.

    • cfmmax
      December 28, 2023 at 06:50

      America and NATO had no business trying to establish bases in Ukraine. They asked for what we now see.
      Biden’s incompetence took him across the full spectrum of responses. Now, all for what?

    • James White
      December 28, 2023 at 07:11

      Mr. Kaye, The U.S. government destabilized the pro-Russian government in Ukraine in 2014 and then installed a puppet government that would act in the interest of the U.S. rather than their neighbor Russia. The U.S. puppet government then murdered over 10,000 ethnic Russian Ukrainian citizens in a form of ethnic cleansing. The U.S. brought a NATO military presence into Ukraine, on Russia’s border, as it has done all over Western Europe. The only purpose of NATO is to threaten Russia and marginalize it economically.
      Imagine if Russia had installed a puppet government in Mexico, or China installed one in Canada. Along with arms, military training, followed by nuclear missiles pointed at the U.S. Our Monroe Doctrine prohibits anything like that from happening. Why are Russia’s security interests any less valid than our own?
      You wrote: ‘Once Russia attacked, we really had no alternative but to come to Ukraine’s aid.’ There are always alternatives to war. Russia and Ukraine had an agreement in place that would have avoided this war entirely. But the U.S. sent Boris Johnson to Kiev to tell Zelensky not to accept any agreement with Russia. The idea that the U.S. was required to aid Ukraine is entirely imaginary. The U.S. has no such agreement with Ukraine.
      There is no stalemate in Ukraine. Russia is winning this war and Ukraine never had any chance to win a war with Russia. It lacks the population size, raw materials and arms to compete with Russia in a shooting war.
      Forcing Ukraine into an armed conflict with Russia as the Biden Regime has done was a monumental blunder before the first shot was fired.
      The U.S. policy should be to stay out of meddling in foreign governments. We should end further funding for Ukraine since the war is already a lost cause and because doing so will bring an end to the slaughter of Ukrainians. A half million Ukrainians are already dead. Every day that the war is prolonged only adds more needless deaths to the total.

    • Tim N
      December 28, 2023 at 08:37

      Oh brother. What’s with this “we” bullshit? “We” really had no alternative to come to Ukraine’s aid after the Russians attacked? The use of “we” here and the statements that followed show a staggering naivete. Do you really not know that the US wanted, and provoked, Russia’s inevitable attack on Ukraine? That the US cares not a bit about the half-million dead there? You sound like Bernie Sanders in his defense of the Israeli/US Genocide in Gaza (in an op-ed that appeared in the NYT): “we” need to be clear-eyed as to the causes of the events that have led to the slaughter, the ongoing mass-murder. Then the benevolent liberal Zionist told one lie of omission after another, freeing his conscience and that of the liberals who depend on his equivocation and lies to go along and get along with the imperial destruction and murder.

    • Piotr Berman
      December 29, 2023 at 15:39

      “once we had taken a positon we were committed to pursue that line.” UNTIL MORE THAN A TRILLION DOLLARS IS WASTED, not to mention lives etc. Now “deviationists” want to draw a line at 100-200 billions.

      Another aspect is that this argument, “once we had taken a position” is not applied to Geneva Conventions etc, but only to a nasty stuff. For example, early in his presidency, Obama has taken a position that Israel has to stop expansion of settlements in areas occupied by Israel, including East Jerusalem. Biden was included too in that effort. After few months, it petered away… One can make a long list of such claimed positions that were not followed by commitments.

  35. SH
    December 27, 2023 at 18:18

    ” … the thought that none of us was raised or prepared to live in an Insane World,”

    Au contraire – I think many of us have been raised for at least the last several decades to live in an insane world … the result being the increase in violence of all sorts as our cognitive dissonance becomes unbearable – as we are increasingly unable to find what it means to be sane in an insane world … and those of us who refuse are weeded out and discarded ….

    The innate humanity we are born with is becoming increasingly buried in the rubble of our technology – to the point where we actually laud the “prospect” of AI “rescuing” us – from what … from ourselves – by replacing us – “real” with “artificial”, intelligence – the ultimate absurdity perhaps being that we do not consider this absurd …

    When everything becomes artificial – is there an hope for remaining human, or is there any point ..

  36. Bushrod Lake
    December 27, 2023 at 17:41

    I don’t know about Louisiana’s censoring the feds for censoring social media platforms, but Trump’s behavior on 6 January is quite obvious – both leading up to and on the 6th illegally contesting the 2020 election. Now, I have rattle snakes that come on to my place, eat the rodents and move on. While I appreciate their presence, I don’t invite them into my house to live with me. Trump and his supporter are dangerous, so, it make sense to avoid them in the most convenient way available whatever the legal niceties. The facts are there IMO.

    • David Otness
      December 28, 2023 at 15:15

      “Trump and his supporter are dangerous, so, it make sense to avoid them…”

      Sorry pard, can’t see the forest for the trees, or what? What is more dangerous than the situation Biden and Co have gotten us into EVERYWHERE on God’s green Earth since taking office with their hard core, hard-on, hyper-aggressive wars on all points asymmetrical, policies they’ve not only made manifest but all consuming priorities?
      Standard disclaimer: no Trumpie am I, but fer cryin’ out loud, if you truly measure your values by the number of innocents consumed or not consumed, or existential geopolitical tensions raised by the War Machine as a measuring stick (many of us do,) then your rattlesnake vs the much more poisonous and prolific in numbers vipers and adders spawned by this current administration can’t hold a candle to your baby rattler.

      While pondering that, if you will, study up on US history and discover within an extremely tawdry and violence-prone exercise in democracy that has only recently seen relative domestic hiatus. If you still require examples, the 1960s were overtly full of them, including very public assassinations of much more beloved than hated Presidents and aspiring Presidents, along with those significant others who sought to redirect this nation’s moral compass. Gun barrel politics, but our actual political legacy nonetheless.

      And there are too many questions of legitimacy in far too many instances in the 2020 elections in spite of all of the media-federal agencies’, the tech titans and Hollywood celebrities snuffing them out from public scrutiny, especially by using derision and its internally-manufactured buzzword “conspiracy theory” by “deplorables.”
      See Whitney Webb’s exposé of the Transition Integrity Project from the summer of 2019 in Mint Press News. Or from her “Unlimited Hangout” site.

      In fact, Trump’s entire political life has been one episode after another of egregious overreach by politicized federal agencies who strove mightily and managed to thwart the will and waste the resources and time of the American (U.S.) people for an entire Presidential term. That’s federal JUSTICE agencies who in their ambitions have brought us to a return to Cold War brinksmanship.

      And it is writ large as well in the beyond suspicious, but never adequately investigated, patterns of police actions across numerous jurisdictions at the Capitol on January sixth, 2021. Let alone the actions of Madame Speaker in preventing those agencies from doing their duties.
      What we have now as the centerpiece of the American (U.S.) political corpus is best summed up imo as a massive clusterfark—with most of it emanating from an unholy alliance of agencies of the federal government and one particular political party and its amoral funders.
      I remain unaffiliated with not only this duopoly of interests, but its self-spawned system as well.

  37. Carolyn L Zaremba
    December 27, 2023 at 17:00

    Excellent article. Accurately recounts the insane ideology of the current administration and the idiotic neocons pushing their fantasy world on the rest of the globe.

    • December 27, 2023 at 19:56

      Hey Carolyn ?
      This current tortured political marriage of neoliberal and neoconservative minions ? gives new meaning to the understanding of incest.
      As Usual,

  38. David Otness
    December 27, 2023 at 16:15

    A notion came to me a while back, a ready-made phrase as it were for this missive’s final paragraph. It goes: We were made for these times. Otherwise we would not have been born into them.

    Sending that out to all who labor on in spite of the growing cacophony and chaos.

    Sensible and survivable New Year to all.

  39. Vincent
    December 27, 2023 at 16:08

    Mr. Lawrence,
    Although I agree with your premise, the 14th Amendment does not specify that someone needs to be convicted of participating in an insurrection, just “engaging” in one. This gives the wiggle-room to bar Trump from the ballot. At least that is my interpretation. Of course trying to clarify and amendment with another amendment would be next to impossible right now.

    I am dubious of this strategy by the Dems. All it does is give the Reps an excuse to do the same thing. Not that either side needs an excuse to do anything.

    • Tim N
      December 28, 2023 at 08:45

      Huh? So if someone “obviously” breaks the law (as far as you can tell–you don’t seem to see well, as your comments on the Louisiana case makes clear), then there’s no need for a trial and a judgement after the trial? Ask a question: why can’t the Dems beat Trump? And the answer is: because they stand for nothing but War and Wall Street (as do the Republicans), and its clear to a critical mass of citizens that this is the case.

  40. Ruby Guetse
    December 27, 2023 at 16:04

    I saw a quote from a right-wing Israeli minister. He said he’d met with evacuees from the north of Israel. And then described that it was “unimaginable” that a family of four would have to live in one room.

    He should come to America. We can show him families who’d consider it a blessing to have a single room to call their home.

    My local food bank sent out a thank you card, saying that they had successfully fed 800 families for Thanksgiving. This is in a small rural town of 15,000 or so, that’s a lot of people for this town. Too bad Biden isn’t sending an emergency fund of $14 billion to the food banks. Thus the thank you card for helping to feed 800 families on one day of the year.

    Under Bidenomics, homelessness rose 12% last year.
    Double Digit increases in homelessness. Vote for Four More Years, if you dare.
    Maybe you’ll be the lucky one who still has a home after four more years? At 12% a year, be careful at how fast that water rises around you. Your turn could be sooner than you think. I wonder if the rise in homelessness has anything to do with the simultaneous rise in childhood mortality? Four More Years! Because Joe Biden cares about you. Really. Almost as much as for his ‘vette, almost, well, kinda almost, at least during election years.

    • Susan Siens
      December 28, 2023 at 16:52

      A great illustration of “liberalism” (not the dictionary definition, but the practice) is Portland, Maine, which is on its way to becoming the East Coast Portland, Oregon. Such a liberal city! So forward thinking! I just read an article about a woman who collects mostly blankets, sleeping bags, clothes, etc, to deliver each week to the homeless in Portland, Maine. She does bring food and drink, but other people do that so she focuses on warmth. One day she delivered a tent to someone and then watched it bulldozed and put in a garbage truck on the same day. Thankfully there are people speaking up for the homeless, but Portland’s liberalism can be put in that same garbage truck.

      It may not be easy living with the homeless, particularly when they have few services, but I did so in NYC and never had a problem. I would like to see our cities in Maine come up with practical solutions, decent solutions, humane solutions, but southern Maine is supposed to become a tech center per Bill Gates and his minion Roux (masters of our governor Mills), and the homeless are so unsightly! I don’t know if I’ll ever go to Portland again from my small town.

  41. December 27, 2023 at 16:02

    It should be noted that the 14th is utterly silent on the need for a conviction of sedition.

    • Paul Greenwood
      December 28, 2023 at 01:58

      That is because it was passed to deny Confederates political representation and first passed by denying Confederacy States the right to vote by excluding them from Congress

  42. December 27, 2023 at 16:01

    Foreign policy is right on, but the argument falls apart on Trump.

    If the Biden DoJ wanted to remove Trump from ’24 election eligibility, they would have included insurrection or rebellion charges in the federal indictment to trigger Section 3 of the 14th amendment. Instead, the charges do not. They can’t be that stupid, right?

    Logic, Patrick, Logic.

  43. Mike
    December 27, 2023 at 15:15

    I strongly agree that the two events have a lot in common, but not necessarily for the reasons given. The idea that a con man and grifter like Trump who committed many of his crimes in plain sight, is somehow being attacked is ludicrous. While Biden – who I really want to see resign immediately, even hough I voted for him – and his family clearly do not have clean hands, they can’t start to compare to the filth that is the Trump criminal family, who used our government is various ways to make ,money of themselves.

    But in support of the main thesis, the howls of a dying beast are growing older and the beast is striking out in very dangerous ways. I really wish we had a leader that could take us calmly and confidently into our country’s next stage.

    • Paul Greenwood
      December 28, 2023 at 02:00

      Why do you not recognise US is a Central Unitary Military-Secret Police State and not a Union of Sovereign States within a Federation ?

    • Tim N
      December 28, 2023 at 08:50

      Waging a Genocide doesn’t compare to what Trump’s done? Really? Biden, by any metric, is as bad or worse than Trump. My God, the Ukraine war alone I would have thought would be convincing enough evidence, and that now bolstered by the Genocide. But no.

      • Susan Siens
        December 28, 2023 at 17:00

        Americans don’t give a damn how many people are killed while they sit in their comfy chairs and soak up the idiocy on TV. They learn that Trump is the root of all evil and like to pretend that today’s troubles sprouted out of nowhere. They certainly never spend any time thinking that the country they live in was founded on genocide and slavery. It’s really little wonder that we engage in genocide and support it wherever it occurs. And, please, don’t anyone tell me that we interfered with “genocide” in Kosovo. That was emphatically NOT genocide.

    • Susan Siens
      December 28, 2023 at 16:57

      I agree with the two comments below your comment and would remind you that Trump is a crook in the open while the Dems pretend Biden is an honest man. He’s never been even half-decent, just a grotesque racist — watch the video of him opposing school desegregation — who had no problem attacking Anita Hill and Scott Ritter (he spoke to them both with the same contempt, a contempt only possible because Biden is a sack of worthless shit). And how about his support for much tougher sentencing for crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine? Shouldn’t his thug of a son be imprisoned on that basis? How anyone could be fooled by Biden who is over the age of 18 is beyond me.

  44. Richard Romano
    December 27, 2023 at 15:12

    I am for the last three years learning to adjust to the insanity. As a lawyer for 58 years I can not imagine what has happened to the law and our country. It is a total shit show run by incompetent clowns. Sad and insane.

  45. Peter
    December 27, 2023 at 15:09

    If orange man didn’t incite the Jan 6 situation, who did? For the record I am a registered independent and in my opinion both of the two likely presidential candidates totally suck.

    • firstpersoninfinite
      December 28, 2023 at 00:32

      Maybe it was the FBI and CIA people who were there telling people they had to get inside the building. It’s been shown in many videos on Youtube, if not elsewhere. It isn’t a conspiracy theory if agents are actually shouting at people to get inside the Capital building. Not that it excuses Trump. The video he showed before the walk to the Capital event started was unhinged.

    • Tim N
      December 28, 2023 at 08:51

      Well, that they both “suck” for you is at least a start.

    • Caliman
      December 28, 2023 at 20:57

      “Incite” as in use his free speech rights to ask his followers to assemble before Congress and seek redress for their grievances? Yes, he did do that.

      Did he however ask them to rebel against the nation and use arms to put down the government? I don’t remember that …

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