Vermont liberal who once feared the FBI now defends it

By Guy Page

Liberals are conflicted about the FBI, Vermont pundit Kevin Ellis wrote recently in his blog, “Conflict of Interest.”

The object of fear and loathing during his liberal adolescence in New Jersey for its perceived racism and political persecution under longtime director J. Edgar Hoover, the Federal Bureau of Investigation – yes, those guys – somehow have become to Ellis and other liberals fear may be the last line of defense against the criminal takeover of American democracy.

“What are we to make of the FBI?,” asks the Montpelier resident, Vermont Journalism Trust (VTDigger) board member, former Vermont State House lobbyist, housing advocate, and high school mentor. “For that matter, what are we to make of all the American institutions that many Americans have feared, distrusted and mocked for the past century? Growing up I was taught to treat the police, the FBI, pharmaceutical companies, banks, and big institutions of almost any kind, with skepticism. It was the same for many liberals. But today – because of Trump and his MAGA followers – we rise to their defense?”

Kevin’s not kidding about the being raised to Fear The Man part. 

“Credit my skepticism to my mother, now 91,” he writes. “A former film reviewer and newspaper columnist, she preached to her children the sacredness of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the right to privacy.

“When I was 14, we watched the Senate Watergate hearings together while she painted the kitchen in our New Jersey home. In the 70s, she headed back to college to earn her long-deferred degree and wrote her final paper on the CIA and its director Richard Helms, later charged and convicted of Watergate-related crimes. Her constant speeches on privacy and the dangers of Richard Nixon and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover laid the foundation for my thinking today.”

So that’s where he’s coming from. And – like many of us, liberal and conservative alike – he’s noticed the rapid shift in political allegiances to the federal police agency.

“Fast forward to 2022 and everything has turned upside down. The FBI is now the favorite whipping boy for Trump and his conservative supporters. Republicans condemn their Gestapo tactics for their seizure of national security documents Trump illegally took after losing the election to Joe Biden. Republicans who spent entire careers praising law enforcement and attacking Democrats for being soft on crime have now turned on the FBI with a vengeance.”

The real problem, as Kevin sees it, is the political emergence of the Disempowered, Angry White Man. 

“It is a singular fact of the (soon to end) Trump era that he came to power by giving voice to the anger of Americans who felt (and still feel) powerless and shut-out of democracy. The angry white man who lost his job in the rush to embrace global free trade, who was audited by the IRS while Amazon pays nothing, who lost his house when the bank forecloses. That guy is so angry, so powerless, so embarrassed by his lot that he will do anything, vote for anyone who gives voice to his rage, his fear. That’s how Trump won the election. And that’s why the FBI is being attacked.”

Speaking for many white men, white women, black men, black women and countless other Americans who are admittedly sometimes angry at the direction in which the country is headed, and the FBI’s role therein, I think Kevin is missing a key point. 

We Deplorables (my word, not his) oppose the FBI being used as a potent political tool to influence the outcome of a presidential election. But when FBI agent Peter Strzok told Lisa Page (no relation!) “we’ll stop” the 2016 election of Donald Trump, he wasn’t kidding. It’s not supposed to work like that. The Bureau’s participation in the banana republic-style raid on Trump’s home is just the latest example. 

We’re worried about the future of American democracy, too.

But I get the weird feeling, Kevin. What if I woke up tomorrow and discovered that the American Civil Liberties Union was the last defender of a criminal government takeover of my First and Second Amendment rights?

I guess then I’d be singing the praises of the group co-founded by Burlington native and beloved actor Orson Bean.  Perhaps, then, arm-in-arm in solidarity with your mother’s love of “the sacredness of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the right to privacy,” you and I would stand together. 

Categories: Commentary

15 replies »

  1. You are foolish to like and trust the FBI at this time in history. They’re politically motivated and controlled. If you don’t believe it then your naive and are following the leftists media. Just wait in a year there will be many investigations occurring and many whistleblowers coming out. Stop drinking the liberal kool-aid.

  2. Yawn. Shocker. Leftists love government agencies that target their political enemies. Who’d have thunk it?

  3. I have met Mr. Ellis on numerous occasions and determined decades ago he was always a communist at heart.

  4. “The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings…Our way of life is under attack. Those who make themselves our enemy are advancing around the globe…no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of “clear and present danger,” then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent…For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence–on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed.”
    ― President John F. Kennedy

  5. I hesitate to jump into this scrum. But here goes. We have to begin with whether you who think the election was stolen. If we can agree that Biden was elected, then we can talk. If not, you don’t believe in elections and the basic function of the government. If you can, I say this – I am not that confused about the FBI. They are a tool to enforce federal laws. They were misused by a racist maniac in J. Edgar Hoover to destroy good people demonstrating for their right to vote and participate in society. You now would like to call their actions around Trump as somehow similar. They are not. Unlike in the 60s with civil rights protesters, the FBI and the Justice Department acted after being alerted by the National Archives. Search warrants were obtained from a federal judge. The search warrant is now public. So is the inventory of what was seized. The government and Trump’s lawyers are arguing in court. A search was conducted and approved by the Attorney General. If the search was illegal and the documents are determined to be properly taken by Trump, they will be returned. That’s how it work in a democracy. But you and I both know that you are masking Trump’s actions with faux outrage at government agencies. JFK was right, even though he didn’t practice what he preached. All you Trump fans out there, I have this question: Would you allow your daughter to be in the same room with him? And those of you who despise the federal government – Did you take the stimulus checks during COVID, get a PPP loan, do you get Medicare, do you drive on roads, do you deduct your mortgage interest, do you receive a teacher or military benefit? Did you attend a state college, get a Pell grant? If you do, you benefit from the government that we created. You are free to opt out of those benefits. You are even free to criticize that government for not doing a better job. But the hypocrisy around Trump and casting the the FBI as part of a criminal takeover of the Democracy is laughable.

    • I have a question for you: Would you allow your daughter to be left in a room with Joe Biden? Considering what 10% Joe did to his own family, particularly the females, I suggest you research facts logically rather than rely on the optics you see and read on MSM. Also, the correct word is Republic – we are a Republic. There is a code of law that supercedes your so called “democracy.” I suggest you familiarize yourself with that code of law as it will soon be very clear who is in control.

    • kevinellis: In just recent history:

      Did FBI Director James Comey ‘enforce federal laws’ when he determined that the DOJ should not prosecute Hillary Clinton for storing classified information on her illegal server? Did the FBI ‘enforce federal laws’ when Hillary, and/or her operatives, knowingly destroyed evidence under subpoena by the U. S. Congress?

      Did the FBI ‘enforce federal laws’ when one of its attorneys falsely edited email evidence to mislead a FISA judge to get a wiretap warrant on the Trump campaign? Did the FBI ‘enforce federal laws’ when Hillary and the DNC were found to have paid for the now debunked Steele Dosier, used by the FBI to further substantiate these FISA warrants?

      Did the FBI ‘enforce federal laws’ when it suggested to Facebook and Twitter that the existence of the Hunter Biden laptop may be ‘Russian Disinformation’? … even while the FBI had the laptop in its custody for nearly a year prior to making the suggestion?

      It’s not that these three distinct instances are indicative of FBI abuses, it’s the now more than six years of FBI deception, resultant congressional investigations and impeachments, and mainstream media misinformation resulting from these FBI indiscretions that are telling. As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times? … not a chance.

    • I’m going to say the most potent reason Trump was elected in the first place was because reasonable people all over the US saw, felt and lived the reality that our massive government was and has been operating in a way that is deeply offensive to their sensabilities. The disconnection between how a normal family lives, raises their children, interacts in their communities and how the “government” has behaved in the last few decades (more?) finally had a voice in Trump. I can assuredly say that if the folks charged with the enormous responsibility of government had acted more responsibly and more in line with the Constitution over these decades, Trump would not have been elected. The corruption, bloated budgets, wars and constant and focused criminalization of our populace (just a few of many examples) led many reasonable, caring, hard working folks to treat the 2016 election like a cancer patient treats chemotherapy. Whether the treatment is worse than the disease remains to be seen. But what does not remain to be seen is the blatant continuation of a completely corrupt ruling class and their faux hippie supporters like Mr. Ellis who have (I’m assuming) faired well as part of the aristocratic enabling Boomer generation.

      Mr. Ellis talks about people taking medicare, Pell Grants, PPP loans etc as some type of reason that a person should, as a consequence of receiving this support, toe the line or better, fall into line behind this decades old rot. It’s such a tremendous lack of vision and such an indication of Mr. Ellis’s, and his ilk, complete sell out of his own ideas and ideals of a young man. This argument he’s making is really a travesty to the young, imagine at one time in your life being able to see the abuses of power, the failure of out of control beaurocracy and the evidence of corrupt people in corrupt systems and then…what…forgetting? Arguing that Welfare is a reason to be grateful?

      Unfortunately Mr. Ellis is not alone. People actually believe as he believes. That it’s Trump that is the cause of the ills in the world and in the US. That after four years of Trump, it’s clear that Trump is the problem and no more Trump solves everything. He’s telling his grandkids this. How many others do you know that are telling the grandkids this?

      The examples of FBI corruption haven’t changed, they’ve only gotten more accepted, more powerful and more feared. Just as Mr. Ellis likes.

      And the election narrative example is an A+ strategy of folks like Mr. Ellis. “I can’t talk to you if you don’t believe Biden was elected” is such a desperate, childish way to shut down questions that if it wasn’t so serious it would be laughable, but unfortunately many, like Ellis, have embraced this dead-end, machiavellian tool, don’t fall for it. This is not an example of reason, it’s a process being used to shut down dissent. You can apply the process to Trump and the election, to abortion, to vaccines, to anything…simply by claiming victory before beginning the conversation. What Ellis and others like him do in this case is to say, “I know the answer and if you disagree, I cannot speak with you”. Imagine telling your child this as you’re raising them to be curious, expansive thinkers…and this is the voice of a generation (or at least part of a generation). Watch for this insidious process and you will see it everywhere and a good response is to take the user’s (in this case Ellis) own advice. If someone starts a communication by doing this, you can be sure it’s not a conversation they want, it’s the power to dominate the narrative.

      Mr. Ellis appears to be a science hater and that says a lot. Science is a process. A process of questions and failures and tests. Mr. Ellis doesn’t agree. He thinks you should take his word and if you don’t, well, Mr. Ellis’s FBI is right around the corner.

  6. Yes. Why do assume that I don’t do research and only read the mainstream media. I do research facts logically. I understand we are a Republic. We have adopted the word Democracy for generations. All of us refer to it that way. But if you prefer Republic, I am glad to use it.

    • Perhaps you should stay over at Vtgravedigger where they are still “In pursuit of the truth”. They, and you are looking in all the wrong places but at least you can comment here. You will lose bigly as DJT would say. I hope you are triggered by those 3 letters because he will be back soon for his revenge term in office. We will win the hearts and minds of Americans.

      • Dano, I, for one, welcome kevinellis’ comments. I hope he keeps them coming, because it gives us the opportunity to point out the flaws in our arguments.

      • Jay, that’s fine, I agree. My point was, that he has to come here to speak freely and can’t do so at VTgravedigger where truth goes to be censored or omitted from being read.

  7. Hope to see all of you at the upcoming, Sept. 17, Constitution Day rally at the State House. Everyone who has posted hopefully respects and understands the vital importance of the document that was signed 235 years ago on that date in 1787. It would be awesome to have some small break out groups discussing civilly these matters.

    Check out the link below. It has resources for all ages that need to be in our libraries, schools and homes keeping Constitutional Rights alive for decades to come.