With the cascade of stupid, immoral, illegal, subversive, un-American, and possibly treasonous things emitted by der Sturmtrumper, his pet Congress, his supporters, and his administration reaching levels that make it nearly impossible for any sane person to keep up with, I’ve started just keeping a running list of observations on the matter. Every time the list reaches critical mass, I suppose I’ll post it and start a new one. Can’t hurt; might help. Here’s the most recent list:
1. And so der Sturmtrumper has now pardoned Joe Arpaio, the racist thug who was convicted of violating a federal court order to stop being such a damned racist. Probably the most thoughtful reaction I’ve seen to that is also the most sobering – that der Sturmtrumper is deliberately working his rabid base up to violence for when the inevitable impeachment and conviction process starts. It certainly explains his renewed interest in banning transgendered troops from the military on the eve of a Category 4 hurricane hitting Texas, for example. Just red meat for the ignorant and armed, an attempt to undermine the rule of law in the name of personal tyranny. If you’re not worried about the survival of the American republic, you’re not paying attention.
2. Joe Arpaio is the classic example of the psychopath drunk with power. A list of his offenses against morality, law, Constitution, and human decency takes longer to read than most decent people have the stomach to get through. The fact that he has supporters at all is indicative of the general state of moral degradation of this country, and the fact that they are not ashamed to support him publicly is a damning indictment of American culture. How even as grotesque a failure as der Sturmtrumper could possibly see fit to grant this gargoyle a pardon is one of the great moral depravities of our time.
3. This riling up his ammosexual base does also fit the general GOP narrative toward armed insurrection. Prominent Republicans have threatened armed insurrection in this country at least a dozen times in the last year – openly advocating violence against American citizens to further their political agenda. This is no longer a party that sees itself bound by democracy or the will of the American people, or even the Constitution. This is a party that regards itself as the only legitimate holder of raw power in the US and everyone else is simply a target.
4. On the other hand, we seem to be shedding Nazis at the top, so that’s good. “Dr.” Sebastian Gorka has ridden off into whatever sunset of eternal whiteness is at the end of the road for such folks. Add that to the fact that the (probably non-Nazi, but with this administration who knows?) guy who was getting paid handsomely to clip positive news stories for der Sturmtrumper is also gone, and it looks like the chaos and dysfunction of the current junta is unabated.
5. So der Sturmtrumper is now openly at war with Congressional Republicans. He’s attacked Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and pretty much everyone he needs in order to advance whatever dumbass ideas he wants put into law. I’m not sure how he thinks this will help, since the Democrats certainly aren’t going to come over to his side – honestly, the Democrats’ best strategy is simply to let this administration self-destruct – and eventually the careerism of the average Senator or Representative will take over and they’ll just ignore him. Der Sturmtrumper forgets the lesson of Andrew Johnson – if you can put together a 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress, you don’t need a president. If he drives Congressional Republicans into the arms of Congressional Democrats where (gasp!) they might actually sit down, work together, compromise, and govern, the way things worked as recently as the 1980s, then perhaps we may survive this.
6. Former President Bannon is said to be readying his revenge on all the staffers in the White House who Done Him Wrong. He’s back at Breitbart, the far-right-wing mouthpiece that launched him into fame, and among his fellow extremists. He’s ready for “war”! War! Yet another keyboard jockey throwing around military terms as if he had a clue! Get your popcorn – gonna be interesting!
7. So James Clapper – the former Director of National Intelligence and a man who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents – has added his voice to the chorus of people who understand reality and denounced der Sturmtrumper as someone who is a “complete intellectual, moral and ethical void.” He also noted the elephant in the room which is the fact that der Sturmtrumper currently has unfettered access to nuclear weapons. If that doesn’t scare you, nothing will.
8. In long-term GOP policy news, thanks to the relentless focus on enriching the few at the expense of the many through the application of supply-side economics to a demand-side economy, MIT economist Peter Temin now says that the US has the economic and political structure of a developing nation rather than a First World one. 20% of the US is educated, has good jobs, and supportive social networks, while the remaining 80% lives in a world of debt, ignorance, and insecurity. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the middle class – the engine of American prosperity and stability – is shrinking. Lynne Parramore, of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, notes that “Without a robust middle class, America is not only reverting to developing-country status, it is increasingly ripe for serious social turmoil that has not been seen for generations.”
9. The numbers bear this out, by the way. The gap between productivity and wages has increased dramatically since 1973, and especially since the early 1980s – that means that Americans workers are doing more and getting paid less proportionately, which is not a good thing in a consumer economy whose prosperity demands consumer spending. The share of income going to the top 1% - and especially the top 0.1% and the top 0.01% - has skyrocketed since 1981, and the top tenth of a percent now has about 12% of all the income in America. Income growth has been limited to those at the top, while those at the bottom have seen their income drop in inflation-adjusted terms. This is not sustainable.
10. If you’re looking for more actual evidence for this (as opposed to the ideological posturing so popular among the right wing these days) there is also this bit of economic news: the bottom 99% of Americans paid 9 times as much income tax as the richest 1% between 1960 and 1980, but they now pay 21 times as much. And if you expand that to the bottom 99.9% of Americans, they were paying 22 times as much income tax as the richest 0.1% in 1980, but are now at 175 times as much. You know, folks, if we want to cut back on welfare, we should stop giving the rich such a free ride.
11. 61% of der Sturmtrumper’s supporters say that there is literally nothing he can do that will make them stop supporting him, according to a recent poll that I looked at. That’s not politics – that’s a cult.
12. Folks, do you have any idea what Hurricane Harvey is going to do to the US? Leaving aside the immense humanitarian disaster just for the moment, the fact remains that Houston is effectively gone as an economic unit and will remain gone for the foreseeable future. The Houston Ship Channel is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, serving 10 major oil refineries and over a hundred similar facilities – including the largest refinery in the US. Those refineries produce more than a quarter of the gasoline consumed in the US and most of our aviation fuel. If they get back up and producing soon the impact will be minor, but if those don’t reopen quickly you can expect European-level gasoline prices in the US this fall. There are also about 150 chemical manufacturing plants turning out everything from plastics to pesticides in Houston, producing nearly half of the basic chemicals in the US as well as significant chunks of our plastics, specialty chemicals, and fertilizers. Shutting all that down will be catastrophic. According to FEMA, “Any disruption lasting longer than several days will negatively affect US energy supplies. Any disruption lasting longer than several weeks will negatively affect the food security of the United States and our trading partners.” None of this is any surprise. All of it was known and predicted after Hurricane Ike hit in 2008. And yet here we are, with president who on August 15th revoked Obama’s executive order establishing a federal flood risk management standard and process. Meanwhile the GOP-controlled Texas legislature just passed a bill designed to make it far more difficult for people in flooded areas to collect their insurance, a bill that went into effect on September 1, because fuck you that’s why. We are so, so screwed.
13. Remember when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey and all those blood-red GOP Congressmen from Texas refused to vote for any federal aid to New Jersey unless it came packaged with all kinds of right-wing tax breaks for their wealthy friends? Notice any of that coming from Texas these days? Didn’t think so. There is nothing like actual need to remind you what outright hypocrites and moral sinkholes the GOP produces in these modern times.
14. Part of me thinks that the rest of the nation should condition hurricane relief for Texas on receiving a full, public apology from every GOP lawmaker who voted against relief for New Jersey, one that spells out precisely how awful they are as human beings. Part of me isn’t sure that I’m quite that petty. But I might be.
15. Speaking of drooling idiots, have you seen the outpouring of commentary from supporters of der Sturmtrumper trying to portray him in a favorable light by criticizing President Obama for going golfing during Hurricane Katrina? You know, the hurricane that hit in 2005, when George W. Bush was president and Obama wasn’t? Are you surprised by this? If so, you haven’t been paying much attention.
16. Those drooling idiots are a significant percentage of the GOP, according to the numbers. A poll by Public Policy Polling that was targeted at determining the beliefs of probably GOP primary voters found that 29% - nearly three in ten – of the Republicans in Louisiana blamed Obama for the catastrophically incompetent response to Katrina, which is actually higher than the percentage who blamed the guy who was actually president at the time. And 44% didn’t know whether to blame the one or the other more. We have entered a world where reality doesn’t matter.
17. It turns out that Senator Barack Obama was actually at the Astrodome during Katrina working to help the victims of the storm, by the way, which is more than FEMA was doing at the time (heckuva job, Brownie!). And for the remaining GOP ignoranti still trying to find some way to make der Sturmtrumper look like, well, something other than the grotesque fool that he is, during Katrina Senator Hillary Clinton worked to return FEMA to independent status after the fiasco of the response to Katrina, then worked with the Congressional Black Caucus’ “Eradicating Poverty” town hall to find the root causes of the suffering patterns from the storm (Obama was also on that panel, if you’d care to look that up). Clinton also helped start the Clinton Global Initiative in the wake of the storm. The CGI had a number of initiatives that bore fruit. One was the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, which raised and distributed around $200 million to colleges, universities and community organizations for the benefit of Katrina victims. Another was a partnership with Toyota to partner with organizations like the St. Bernard Project to improve preparations for and home-building efforts after major storms. The SBP has rebuilt more homes, post-Katrina, than any other organization. And neither Clinton nor Obama were actually president at the time. Imagine – actual Americans working to make the lives of other actual Americans better in responsible ways. I know! No wonder the electorate rejected them.
18. Well, it turns out that pardoning ol’ Sheriff Joe is yet another thing that may well constitute an impeachable offense according to legal scholars. While the Constitution does not explicitly put limits on the power of the president to pardon, it also has no issues with such limits when they are imposed on other similar things – all of the rights set out in the Constitution are subject to restriction and always have been, including all of the Bill of Rights. You can’t incite riots under the 1st Amendment, for example, and yes this principle of limits includes the 2nd Amendment (try reading the Heller decision sometime – even Antonin Scalia wasn’t so far gone in his partisanship to deny it). The issue here is that Arpaio was pardoned for violating a federal court order rather than violating a law, and for der Sturmtrumper to step in – while the case was still ongoing, since Arpaio hadn’t been sentenced yet – and give him a free pass is a violation of the separation of powers. “The power of courts to restrain government officers from depriving citizens of liberty absent judicial process is the only meaningful way courts have to enforce important constitutional protections,” noted Martin Redish, a constitutional law scholar at Northwestern University. “But if the president can employ the pardon power to circumvent constitutional protections of liberty, there is very little left of the constitutional checks on presidential power.” Which, of course, is der Sturmtrumper’s goal. The Founders feared tyranny more than any other way the republic could collapse, and it looks like we’re well on our way there with this administration and its supporters.
19. Robert Mueller has begun partnering with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate the financial crimes of der Sturmtrumper and his cronies, minions, and lackeys. This is significant, since it works to nullify der Sturmtrumper’s biggest weapon against Mueller – his ability to abuse the presidential pardoning power (see above). State crimes cannot be pardoned by presidents. Sleep well, Fredo.
20. Mueller has also begun working with the IRS Criminal Investigations Unit on the collusion between der Sturmtrumper and Russian intelligence, making use of their expertise in tax evasion and money laundering. He now has access to der Sturmtrumper’s tax returns, in other words, which is more than the rest of the American people can say.
21. General Kelly’s days may well be numbered, which should come as no surprise to anyone who understands the titanic and infantile ego of his boss, which he has been laboring to bring to heel. According to any number of people who have spoken on the issue from the deep confines of the White House, der Sturmtrumper is deeply annoyed at the idea that other people are placing limits on his freedom to do whatever he wants (and if you want to understand his attitude toward the law, well, there you go). Nobody trying to bring order and structure to this dysfunctional rat’s nest is going to last for long, and my guess is that Kelly will be shown the door fairly soon.
22. You know, the idea that der Sturmtrumper’s base is a collection of the dregs of American society – the racists, the white supremacists, the thugs, the Nazis, the unreconstructed Confederates, and so on, generally known for rhetorical convenience as the “alt-Right” – is obvious to those of us looking in from the outside, but it is somewhat surprising to see it confirmed so bluntly by their own admission. This is true even when compared to most Republicans, who in theory are the party he leads, and most conservatives, the folks he claims to represent (he certainly has no interest in doing anything for anyone else). Trump supporters are four times more likely to openly support the KKK than either whites in general, Republicans in general, or conservatives in general. They are nearly twice as likely to be openly favorable to white supremacists than Republicans in general, and nearly three times as much as conservatives in general. They are the only group who blame the counter-protesters at Charlotte rather than the white supremacists who killed one of the protesters. Neither whites in general nor Republicans overall did that. They are the only people who think that whites are the most discriminated group against in America – only a quarter of whites are that stupid, and two out of five Republicans, but 45% of der Sturumtrumper’s supporters say so. They are almost twice as likely as whites in general or conservatives overall to have an explicitly favorable opinion of Nazis. Among people who strongly support Trump, that figure goes up to four times as likely as conservatives overall. Remember, folks – these are people who are comfortable saying this explicitly (yes, the questions were that clear) to a pollster. The real numbers may well be higher. Numbers don’t lie, though der Sturmtrumper’s supporters do when they tell you they’re not racists.
23. Has anybody told der Sturmtrumper yet that he won? He seems to do an awful lot of campaigning for a guy who was inaugurated less than a year ago.
24. Der Sturmtrumper just can’t get good mindless minions these days, no matter how hard he tries. His own Department of Justice has admitted in court that der Sturmtrumper’s claims of being wiretapped by the Obama Administration during the campaign are utterly groundless, completely false, and without merit. And his supporters don’t care, because truth is a concept they have no familiarity with anyway and they’d rather have the exciting story than the actual reality.
25. The Russian noose continues to tighten, with smoking gun emails being discovered at a rate that is positively hazardous to anyone breathing nearby. Der Sturmtrumper’s longtime lawyer and confidente Michael Cohen, for example, is on record pursuing business deals with Russia during the campaign on behalf of der Sturmtrumper despite vehement denials from der Sturmtrumper that such things happened, and Felix Sater – another of der Sturmtrumper’s advisors – celebrated his relationship with Vladimir Putin and der Sturmtrumper in other emails, vowing to “get Putin on this program and … get Donald elected.” Yeah, a surgical mask would be good about now, trying to breathe through all that smoke.
26. Der Sturmtrumper’s plan to repeal DACA is yet another instance of the gratuitous cruelty of this rogue regime. Honestly, going after children? Children who are very carefully vetted for lack of criminal record, attendance at school, and gainful employment? Those are dangerous, aren’t they? Sure they are – they’re not old white evangelical Protestant men, after all. If you’re missing the blatant racism of this – which they don’t even bother to conceal anymore – there is no hope for you.
27. Der Sturmtrumper’s flag:
28. No wonder they hated Obama so much. The mere thought of a black man in the White House drove the folks who became der Sturmtrumper’s base absolutely crazy for eight long years, and now they’ve got just the bigot to make all their dreams come true.
29. Speaking of Obama, I hope you saw his response to this. It was measured, responsible, clearly thought out, correctly spelled, humane, moral, patriotic, and therefore in every way the polar opposite of der Sturmtrumper, his minions, and their fellow travelers. It was also public, which is extremely unusual for an ex-president. This, more than anything else, tells you just how outside the bounds of normal politics we are these days, when a Constitutional scholar feels honor-bound to defy convention to try to remind Americans who we are and slap down the moral outrage that is, for now, the stated policy of the current occupant of the Oval Office.
30. This country was founded by immigrants. It was built by immigrants. And, given current demographic trends, it will survive entirely on how welcoming it is to new immigrants. Unless things change, that won’t be very long at all.
31. What’s fascinating is just how widespread the condemnation of der Sturmtrumper’s assault on DACA is, even among conservatives. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops – a group not known for its left wing politics – has condemned der Sturmtrumper’s actions as “reprehensible.” “Today’s actions represent a heartbreaking moment in our history that shows an absence of mercy and good will, and a short-sighted vision for the future,” they said. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said, “I believe those who were brought to this country by their parents, raised here, educated here, lived here, and dreamed here, should be welcomed to stay here.” The US Chamber of Commerce declared that “To reverse course now and depart these individuals is contrary to fundamental American principles and the best interests of our country.” Not that it will make much difference, I suspect. We’re still talking about hurting people who are not rich, white, or in a position to add to der Sturmtrumper’s private wealth, and who therefore don’t count as far as he is concerned.
32. You know, guys, when you have two “once in a century” storms in the same week, maybe you should consider the reality of climate change. Just a thought.
33. Der Sturmtrumper really seems to be doing his level best to alienate everyone, and it’s working. Apparently he struck a deal with Democrats – who, let’s be honest here, wouldn’t stop to piss on him if he were on fire – to get a three-month hike in the debt ceiling in order to pay for Hurricane Harvey relief. Now, on the one hand, the nonsensical opposition to raising the debt ceiling (as opposed to not spending the money in the first place) that the GOP has spouted since the black guy was in charge has been one of the dumbest features of American politics in recent memory, and anything that cuts that circus short counts as a win for humanity, especially if it avoids the GOP Theater of Cruelty that comes with horse-trading aid to American citizens for ideological victories such as you saw after Hurricane Sandy. On the other hand, the GOP faction of Congress is deeply annoyed as this has deprived them of a prime grandstanding opportunity to showcase their fiscal ignorance and pander to the hard hearted. Which, of course, means that they are now angry at der Sturmtrumper. I do hope that der Sturmtrumper understands that the only thing standing between him and impeachment is the GOP conviction that he can be a useful idiot for implementing their agenda, and when that understanding doesn’t hold he will be removed from office as he should have been in January. You may continue to grab your popcorn!
34. Senator John “No Fucks Left to Give” McCain has joined with Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse to file a brief with the Supreme Court supporting the lower court’s decision to black Wisconsin’s blatant GOP gerrymandering as a crude violation of the Constitution. That case will be argued in less than a month. Yes, keep that popcorn machine humming!
35. Do you suppose the GOP will keep to its plan to cut $876 million from FEMA in its next budget, the way they were going to until Hurricane Harvey devastated reliably conservative Texas? They were going to use that money for der Sturmtrumper’s wall, after all. I’m guessing that this idea has been shelved for now, but not for long. You can always rely on the short-term greed of the modern GOP to forget why money needs to be spent in the first place.
36. I do get tired of people pointing out that if der Sturmtrumper gets evicted from the Oval Office we’ll be left with Mike Pence, as if they expect me to be so blisteringly stupid that I think this is about partisan politics. Yes, I know Pence comes next. It says so, right in the Constitution, which is a document I have actually read! You should too! Pence is your bog-standard right-wing Koch Brothers meat puppet and Dominionist theocrat, but he’s not clinically insane, has at least some passing familiarity with the Constitution (though his grasp of the 14th Amendment is disturbingly weak), and knows how to run a government. We'll survive Pence, just like we survived W, and eventually the grown-ups will come back into power and clean up the mess. I can’t really say that about der Sturmtrumper’s regime. It’s not about partisan politics, folks. It’s about the survival of the American republic. Try to keep up.