1. Well that didn’t take long. Der Sturmtrumper’s new mouthpiece [not for long – see below], affectionately known to his drinking buddies as “Mooch” for reasons that have not been publicly confirmed, has launched an all-out assault on
2. Apparently you can’t change official US military policy by shitstorming on Twitter. Who knew?
3. For those of you who live in caves, der Sturmtrumper – in a transparent attempt to deflect attention from the implosion of his administration and the creeping Fascism of what passes for his policies – has declared that transsexuals will no longer be allowed to serve in the US armed forces. He claimed that he had reached this decision in consultation with “my generals” – an eerily totalitarian possessive that was completely contradicted by actual US military officials, none of whom had even heard of this until der Sturmtrumper shat it out. Not surprisingly, the Joint Chiefs of Staff has responded with the flat statement that there would be “no modification” of current policies until formal procedures had been followed for making such changes. Given the slapdash laziness of der Sturmtrumper and his legal team, that may well never actually happen. Though given the necessity of beating his bigoted core voters into line to vote in 2018, who knows what evil they may bestir themselves to commit.
4. And make no mistake – this is evil. FFS, even Orrin Hatch – as right-wing a conservative as ever walked the surface of the planet – has condemned it as immoral and un-American. When you’re too much of right-wing extremist for Orrin Hatch, you really need to re-evaluate your life choices.
5. Mooch recently declared that der Sturmtrumper “sinks 3-foot putts,” presumably because der Sturmtrumper’s ability to play with his tiny balls is somehow supposed to be impressive to normal people. Naturally the official White House transcript has revised this to say that der Sturmtrumper “sinks 30-foot putts.” You know, this is rapidly approaching Kim Jong Un territory. Remember when North Korea was the country with the unstable dictator and the US had a long-term plan? Good times, man.
6. Man, the Mooch waits for nobody and Reince “No, Seriously, That’s His Name” Priebus is out on the pavement wondering what hit him. As one would expect with der Sturmtrumper’s administration, Priebus was fired with all the dignity and ceremony of a mob hit. He, White House Policy Adviser Stephen Miller, and White House Social Media Director (seriously, that’s his title – he’s doing a heckova job, ain’t he?) Dan Scavino got into a darkened vehicle, and then only Miller and Scavino got out. He got Kiffined! Is there a stadium being built in New Jersey somewhere? Someone should check under the 50-yard-line for a white guy in a blue suit. Either that or Priebus is about to become the new assistant football coach at Alabama.
7. And just in case the Mafia parallels weren’t clear enough in this criminal regime, one of Mooch’s buddies – Arthur Schwartz, by name – publicly threatened the now unemployed Reince “No, Seriously, That’s His Name” Priebus with defamation. “Hey, Reince,” his tweet of July 30 begins. “Remember when people told you it was me that was trashing you in the press. They were right. Happy to start again.” And a short while later, “Reince – you’re unemployed now. Keep pushing this crap & I’ll start dropping oppo on you.” Sweet dancing monkeys on a stick, the Mafia actually has more honor than this crew of delinquents.
8. In other news, der Sturmtrumper went to a police chief convention and openly called for more police brutality. Because fuck you, that’s why. The number of police officers and chiefs who have publicly told der Sturmtrumper that this is precisely the kind of thuggery that they are here to prevent has been gratifying to the rational adult mind, but the fact that this idiocy is coming straight from the head of the nation’s Executive Branch is more than a little grotesque.
9. The latest slapstick collapse of Republicare is one for the ages. Here is a party that has been having a complete toddler-level meltdown at the prospect of Americans getting healthcare for nearly a decade, that tried to repeal the ACA more than fifty times during the Obama presidency when they knew they could pout and scream and hold their collective breath until they turned blue and nothing would change, except now they control both houses of Congress and the Presidency (and, thanks to some flatly subversive partisan extremism, the Supreme Court as well), and after all that time and all that shouting they have definitively proven that they are idiots of the 33rd degree with no ability to think, plan, or act in any rational manner. Let’s take this from the top, shall we? They had no replacement bill ready when they took control. The original replacement bill they hurriedly cobbled together was drafted in secret by 13 men and rammed to a vote without any public input or CBO score, which, when the score came in, was just as bad as the bill's worst critics thought it would be, and it failed because honestly what about that doesn’t scream Fail? They tried to ram another bill through in its place – a bill so secret that even the GOP didn’t know what it was and didn’t see any problem with voting for a bill they’d never read, and they failed again. This isn’t a political party – this is the “Before” picture of an AA convention. They have no idea what they’re doing, no idea how to do it, and no concern for the damage they will cause if they ever succeed in spite of themselves. Is there a 12-step program for this kind of thing? I’m sensing a business opportunity here.
10. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) probably summed it up best during the farce that evening. “This is nuclear-grade bonkers, what is going on here tonight,” he said. “We are about to reorder one fifth of the American health-care system, and we are going to have two hours to review a bill … that is lighting the American health-care system on fire with intentionality.”
11. And if you doubt Murphy’s words, consider the fact that the stated argument – the publicly stated argument from FOUR actual serving Republican Senators was that they would only vote for the bill if they received assurances that it would not in fact become law. Uh, say what? If you don’t want it to become a law, don’t vote for it. Because you know, there’s nothing in the Constitution that says the House has to abide by those assurances, which I am sure Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan knew quite well. Seriously, folks – at some point this stops being about partisan politics and starts being about the sheer immaturity and incompetence of the governing party.
12. Actually, the kicker of the way it all turned out once Republicare went down in flames was pointed out by a Reddit user with the username “zzzzzzzz414” and deserves to be quoted in full:
I'm not sure if it's really being appreciated just how comprehensively the Republicans were just fucked over.
See, the Republicans have been trying to pass these godawful healthcare bills through a process called budget reconciliation, which, among other things, protects the bill from being filibustered in the Senate and only requires a simple majority of 50 votes (rather than 60, which the Republicans don't have).
The thing is, the Senate can only consider one budget reconciliation bill per topic per year. Of course, if the bill dies in committee and never comes to an official vote, it doesn't count- which is why they've been able to keep hammering away at the issue.
This bill, though, was allowed to come to the Senate floor, because the Republicans thought they'd secured the votes. Collins, Murkowski and the Democrats would vote no, everyone else would vote yes, and Pence would break the tie. And then McCain completely fucked them. And it was almost certainly a calculated move; he voted to allow the bill to come to the floor. Had McCain allowed it to die in committee, McConnell could have come back with yet another repeal bill; but he let it come to a vote, and now they can't consider another budget reconciliation bill for the rest of the fiscal year. The Senate needs 60 votes to pass any kind of healthcare reform now.
So now they're caught between a rock and a hard place. Either they concede defeat on the issue and try again later (causing a big, unpopular stink that could damage elections if they try it before the midterms, or risking losing the slim majority they already have if they wait) or they actually sit down with the democrats like adults and write a halfway decent healthcare bill.
This is amazing.
Yes, indeed. Amazing. That’s one word for it, anyway.
13. One lesson here is don’t screw over John McCain. Der Sturmtrumper devoted a lot of time in 2016 to insulting the service and heroism of a combat veteran who spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, two of them in solitary confinement and much of it being tortured, while der Sturmtrumper himself spent the war sitting around comfortably at home because he had the money and connections to dodge his service. A man like McCain will remember the disrespect, and will beat you to death with it if he can. He played a long game with Republicare, carefully setting things up so that he could cast the deciding vote against der Sturmtrumper’s pet project, and don’t think that was accidental. And now McConnell and der Sturmtrumper have been royally fucked over. At least until McConnell changes the rules of the game he can’t win fairly, which is the modern GOP strategy after all. But for this moment, one must sit back and enjoy the elegance of the unanesthetized political colonoscopy they just received at the hands of a man they thought they could insult with impunity.
14. No, McCain didn’t defeat Republicare on his own. The entire Democratic caucus – including any number of Senators from red states – as well as GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska (willing to shrug off public threats of retaliation from der Sturmtrumper) and Susan Collins of Maine all stood tall in the face of immorality and authoritarian edict-manufacturing. But my guess is that they rather carefully orchestrated it so McCain could be the one with the knife. McCain does not have to worry about re-election, for one thing. And more importantly, der Sturmtrumper is exquisitely sensitive to any perceived slight to his galactic ego, and the final blow coming from McCain hurt a lot more than it would have coming from Murkowski or Collins. For which the rest of us can be glad.
15. Even so, it should be noted that the GOP came within a single vote of passing a bill that nobody – nobody, not the Democrats, not the majority of Republicans, not the health care industry, not the AMA, not the insurance industry, nobody other than the robber barons who pull their strings – wanted. Even some of the Republicans who voted for it publicly said it was a disgrace. And yet they voted for it anyway. When you have a party that is that out of step with both reality and politics, you have to question the institutional sanity at the top.
16. Now we’re left with the pathetic spectacle of der Sturmtrumper announcing to the American people that he intends to destroy the ACA rather than let anyone have healthcare in this country, because that’s what Republican Jeebus Hissownself (a heavily armed and bigoted figure not to be confused with any actual deity or Savior) demands, I suppose. Turns out that people don’t want that either, and there are already lawsuits from insurance companies demanding that he actually follow the law and pay them the money they’re owed under the ACA. Business friendly GOP? Not if it conflicts with the imperative of cruelty that the GOP seems to live under these days.
17. And just like that, the Mooch is gone in a blinding flash of profanity and incompetence. Seriously – the press secretary of the President of the United States of America doesn’t know the difference between “on the record” and “off the record”? This was such a catastrophic hire that one begins to wonder if it was deliberate, designed to keep our attention away from something else, such as, oh, the Russian inquiries.
18. And right on cue, the same day that Mooch blew up in the GOP’s face, Bill Browder – a financier with extensive experience dealing with Russian operatives – testified before Congress. It should be noted that his testimony was delayed, and his original testimony date was the same day that der Sturmtrumper randomly decided to ban transgender soldiers from the military. It’s hard to say whether these were deliberate attempts to distract or just the usual catastrophic incompetence of the current regime. Ian Fleming once wrote that once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, but three times is enemy action, and we’re well into enemy action territory with this sad crew of civic illiterates. Browder had extensive business dealings in Putin’s Russia before reporting a massive $230 million corruption scandal to the proper authorities – who, as it turned out, were in on it – whereupon he was accused of financial crimes and banned from Russia, and his lawyer was beaten to death. His testimony described a criminal Russian state largely devoid of ideology and devoted to sowing chaos in order to make money and amass power. He further described the methods that the Russian agents used to coopt and control their targets – methods that parallel almost exactly the pattern of contact that is emerging from US investigations into the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russian agents in 2016. The noose just gets tighter and tighter, and the distractions keep getting larger and larger and there is just no way this is going to end well, really.
19. Mooch lasted all of 10 days on the job, and I think this should be the new unit of measurement for all things connected to der Sturmtrumper. “Wow, that lasted six whole mooches!” you can say, or, since it’s a base-10 measurement, “I give it a decimooch before it all unravels.”
20. Meanwhile, the American diplomatic corps – and with it what remains of our leadership in the world – is being systematically destroyed by an administration that is by all evidence utterly incapable of understanding what it is supposed to be doing and how to do it. For example, Exxon’s own Secretary of State has ordered his department to revise its mission statement, and current drafts look remarkably like the old version with the singular exception of getting rid of any mention of democracy and justice – two things that der Sturmtrumper fears. I’m sure this change will come as a great comfort to der Sturmtrumper’s puppetmaster in Moscow.
21. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback – the only governor in America more of a Koch Brothers puppet than Wisconsin’s own Governor Teabagger – is apparently abandoning the economic wreckage of a state so devastated by GOP economic policies that even the GOP seems to have noticed, and jumping ship to a State Department position leading the Office of International Religious Freedom. Consider that Brownback, like most Dominionists, defines “religious freedom” to mean the freedom of extreme right-wing pseudo-Christians to impose their blinkered theocracy on an unwilling world and your freedom to bend over and take it, and you can perhaps see what a disaster in the making this is. At least Kansas has a fighting chance to recover from his increasingly dictatorial and hallucinatory rule, though, so that’s something.
22. This might also explain why the State Department withdrew from the Presidential Management Fellowship program – a highly respected program that brings top-of-the-line talent into the State Department. And with the typical display of competence and foresight that one would expect from der Sturmtrumper’s administration, none of program officials or applicants knew about this until they read it in the papers. Because who needs top-flight talent when you have ideological extremists, cronies, grifters, and hacks who need jobs?
23. This weakness on the global stage comes from the top, as Peggy Noonan – former Reagan and Bush Sr. speechwriter and campaigner for George W. Bush – points out. “The president’s primary problem as a leader is not that he is impetuous, brash, or naive,” she said recently. “It’s not that he is inexperienced, crude, an outsider. It is that he is weak and sniveling … whiny, weepy, and self-pitying. He throws himself, sobbing on the body politic. He’s a drama queen.” More to the point, she adds, “the whole world is watching, a world that contains predators. How could they not be seeing this weakness, confusion and chaos and thinking it a good time to cause some trouble?”
24. A whole lot of Republican foreign policy professionals are sounding loud and increasingly panicked alarms over the deliberate implosion of American diplomatic strength and world leadership under der Sturmtrumper. Max Boot, who advised three different GOP presidential candidates notes that der Sturmtrumper “seems as clueless today as he was on January 20th.” More to the point, Geoffrey Kemp, a Pentagon official during the Ford Administration and an NSC official under Reagan, flatly said that “Trump has an appalling ignorance of the current world, of history, of previous American engagement, of what former Presidents thought and did. He has an almost studious rejection of the type of in-depth knowledge that virtually all of his predecessors eventually gained or had views on.” David Gordon, director of the policy planning staff of the State Department under Condoleezza Rice during the Bush Jr. Administration, declared “The sheer scale of his lack of knowledge is what has astounded me – and I had low expectations to begin with.” Eliot A. Cohen, counselor to Rice during her term at the State Department, flatly notes that “Trump is completely irredeemable. He has a feral instinct for self-survival, but he’s unteachable. The ban on Muslims coming into the country and building a wall, and having the Mexicans pay for it, that was all you needed to know about this guy on foreign affairs. This is a man who is idiotic and bigoted and ignorant of the law.” More ominously, John McLaughlin, who worked for the CIA from Nixon to Bush Jr. and became its director under Bush, said “American leadership in the world – how do I phrase this, it’s so obvious, but apparently not to him – is critical to our success, and it depends eighty per cent on the credibility of the President’s word. … Our leadership in the world is slipping away. It’s slipping through our hands.”
25. If you doubt that, just take a gander at the recently released transcripts of der Sturmtrumper’s phone calls to the leaders of Mexico and Australia – two allied countries, one hastens to note. The sheer witless incompetence as the Australian attempts repeatedly to explain what his country’s immigration policies actually are to a man willfully ignorant and uninterested in learning the truth is painful, and der Sturmtrumper’s pathetic wheedling of the Mexican leader to stop saying he won’t pay for the wall is just embarrassing. No wonder American leadership in the world is so badly weakened under this travesty of an administration.
26. This is also perhaps why the Observer – published in Britain since 1791 – recently declared der Sturmtrumper unfit for public office: partisan, clueless, without any substantive legislative achievement despite supposedly leading a party with full control over the US government, and a threat to the western hegemony that has existed since the Age of Imperialism. Remember, Britain is our oldest and staunchest ally. Imagine what our enemies are saying.
27. This might be why you’re starting to see more and more Republicans defying der Sturmtrumper. He’s weak, ineffectual, flailing and failing, and they have more important career goals than sacrificing themselves for someone who will just as likely take them down with him as reward them. The Senate has now adjourned after its disastrous session and has made arrangements to prevent der Sturmtrumper from making any recess appointments while they are gone. On the one hand, this isn’t unprecedented – the GOP treated Obama the same way. But for a GOP Senate to treat a president supposedly of their own party this way is pretty indicative of what they think of him and his ability to hurt them.
28. The Senate also introduced legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from der Sturmtrumper’s attempts to get rid of him, which tells you that they are actively defending someone who just empaneled a grand jury to investigate the president’s crimes, in direct contradiction to der Sturmtrumper’s often volcanically expressed wishes.
29. In case you’re not up on your legal procedures, by the way, grand juries are serious things. According to the New Yorker, “Grand juries don’t investigate hoaxes, and there are rules against using them for anything resembling a political witch hunt. As several former federal prosecutors [said], the grand jury is significant because it means that Mueller is in the midst of a ‘predicated’ criminal investigation. That is, he has reached the point where he has evidence of criminal conduct. ‘It can’t be used for a fishing expedition,’ Matt Olsen, a former federal prosecutor said. ‘He’s got a very powerful tool to pursue specific federal crimes.’” And while evidence of criminal conduct does not mean that indictments or convictions are certain, it does mean that the desperate cries of “fake news” and “sore losers over the election” are just that much hot air blown in our faces by an increasingly frantic administration trying to distract the American people from serious concerns.
30. Some of the defiance from the GOP might also be due to the fact that der Sturmtrumper’s approval ratings started low and have dropped like a stone as more and more Americans find out what it is like to be ruled by a gibbering idiot. According to the most recent Quinnipiac poll, der Sturmtrumper’s approval rating has dropped 7 points since late June, down to 33%. This includes an 8-point drop in support from Republican voters. White voters without a college degree - a core part of der Sturmtrumper's base - now disapprove of der Sturmtrumper by a 50-43 margin, and overall 54% of Americans now say that they are embarrassed to have this guy in the Oval Office (versus 26% who somehow, some way, remain proud of this fact).
31. Regardless, it is increasingly clear that federal officials of both parties are now more and more choosing to ignore der Sturmtrumper in order to do their jobs. The head of the Coast Guard announced he will “not break faith” with transgender service members regardless of der Sturmtrumper’s position – an announcement in line with the rather laconic dismissal of that position from the Joint Chiefs of Staff earlier. The GOP-controlled Senate has moved on from the Republicare debacle despite der Sturmtrumper’s frantic demands that they stay focused on it until he gets what he wants (which, among other things, tells you just how little der Sturmtrumper actually understands about the American Constitutional system of government – presidents don’t get to dictate Congressional agendas). They’ve also publicly rebuked him for his treatment of the Confederate Attorney General, promising “hell to pay” if der Sturmtrumper goes through with his threats to fire the CAG. Exxon’s own Secretary of State has publicly contradicted him on North Korea. Even Vice President Pence has challenged der Sturmtrumper’s interpretation of the Russian sanctions bill. As Jack Goldsmith – a Justice Department official under Bush Jr. – noted, “What is most remarkable is the extent to which his senior officials act as if Trump were not the chief executive. Never has a president been so regularly ignored or contradicted by his own officials.” Before Mooch was unceremoniously dumped by the side of the highway he complained that “There are people inside the administration who think it is their job to save America from this president,” and you know, that was surprisingly astute of him.
32. Six months in and der Sturmtrumper is already showing all the signs of being a lame duck. That has got to be a new record.
33. This is not to say that der Sturmtrumper’s impact has been negligible. While the circus goes on center stage, in the background the termites of the right wing are eating away at the foundations of American progress, prosperity, and stability, happy to be out of the spotlight. “Let me put it this way, said Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson said recently, “I’m glad that Trump is drawing all the fire so I can get stuff done.” There have been any number of right wingers appointed to federal judgeships, for example. “While President Trump is incompetent at countless aspects of his job, he is proving wildly successful in one respect: naming youthful conservative nominees to the federal bench in record-setting numbers.” Meanwhile Scott Pruitt is gutting the EPA at historically unprecedented rates, the Justice Department is strengthening civil forfeiture rules (that’s the legal theft of property from people merely accused of crimes, without waiting for conviction, for those of you who think you still have rights or that the GOP would care about protecting them) and weakened opposition to the fundamental GOP survival strategy of voter suppression. A great many financial regulations put in place in the aftermath of several different economic crises are also being repealed, with no doubt predictable results down the line. Just because there’s a fool at the top doesn’t mean his underlings are incapable of harm.
34. For example, the current House appropriations bill includes riders that would largely eliminate any oversight of corporate donations to political campaigns and prohibit the Internal Revenue Service, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Federal Election Commission from enforcing the rules that remain. Because what American politics needs is more dark corporate money to buy elections. We clearly don’t have enough of that, according to the GOP.
35. Did you notice that der Sturmtrumper is now campaigning against legal immigration too now? Because white people are too weak and incompetent to compete against everyone else, I suppose. As someone who is, according to the standard definitions, a white person, I find that more than a little insulting. I am an American. These colors do not run. I’m not going to be afraid of immigrants. This country was founded by immigrants, and it takes a special kind of stupid to forget that.
36. And a special kind of stupid they do indeed have. That’s why Senior Policy Advisor Stephen Miller declared publicly that the inscription on the base of the Statue of Liberty – “Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free” and so on, the one that you learned in school back when we were proud of the fact that this country was the home of liberty – was just so much graffiti and didn’t count for anything. Not surprisingly, this is precisely the same position taken by the morons of the white nationalist movement – a movement that heartily endorsed der Sturmtrumper in 2016, recall. David Duke and Richard Spencer have all made this same point, and Stormfront – the online home of the neo-Nazi movement in this country – explicitly condemns the poem as graffiti. You are the company you keep, and der Sturmtrumper and his administration do keep some fascinating company, don’t they?
37. They are also forgetting the simple demographic fact that the birthrate in the US has been below replacement for over a decade now, which means all of the population growth this country has seen recently has been due to immigration. You want your country to shrink? Choke off immigration. Why does der Sturmtrumper want this country to be weak? You’ll have to ask him.
38. HR McMaster – the guy who came in after National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had to leave on a Russian vacation – has publicly announced that Susan Rice did nothing wrong regarding the fabricated right-wing outrage generator known as the Unmasking Scandal. And not surprisingly, the right-wing media has gone on toddler-level rampage against McMaster over this (and, admittedly, for other reasons as well, such as the fact that McMaster, a general, does not care much for the right-wing ideologues he inherited on staff from Flynn and has been systematically replacing them). The long knives are out, folks, and if it weren’t the fate of the republic at stake here it would be entertaining to watch the petit Fascist extremists masquerading as conservatives eat each other alive. As it is, it’s just disturbing.
39. And now Sebastian Gorka, one of the openly Nazi members of der Sturmtrumper’s regime, is leaving. I suppose I should be glad for this bit of news, since my basic rule of morality is that being on the opposite side from the Nazis is generally always the right call, but it does raise some questions. For crying out loud, if the Nazi thinks he can find greener pastures elsewhere, what does that say about your administration?
40. If you haven’t seen Senator Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) stunningly blunt condemnation of der Sturmtrumper and the GOP mindset that created this administration and aids and abets it still, you’re missing out. If he and other Republicans follow through on this, there may yet be hope for the republic. We’ll see.
41. Republican donor Bob Heghmann has sued the GOP for fraud and racketeering for its failure to repeal the ACA. He wants his money back. Uh, dude, you do realize you've just declared to a court of law that your donations were specifically meant to produce a quid pro quo, that you were intending to bribe elected officials to vote in a specific way on a specific issue and now you want a refund? Seriously? I mean, not that this is going to land Mr. Heghmann in jail the way it ought to, in a world where Betsy DeVos still has a job that doesn't involve making license plates, but it is unusual to see it expressed so shamelessly. I guess it's a sign that criminality is nothing to be ashamed of in certain political quarters these days.