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. I’ve heard from several people about the length of these posts. They go on too long. And I agree with you, they do. But: A) I mostly write these for two reasons, neither of which is readability. First, I need to holler and this is my space to do it. And second, I want it on record that I did not accept the right-wing assault on everything about the United States that is worthwhile and in accordance with our values and history. That takes time and space. B) With the sheer unrelenting pace of der Sturmtrumper and his minions, cronies, enablers, sycophants, and henchmen, there is a lot to write about. And C) I try to keep some space between these posts. If I made them shorter, I’d be posting them every day. Who wants that?
2. I’d try to be outraged by der Sturmtrumper’s recent childish outburst about “shithole” countries sending immigrants here, but this is just one more example of the vicious racism that has been obvious from Day 1 with this nitwit (remember, folks, this is the only president this country has ever had who has actually been sued by the federal government for being such a fucking racist) and it is exactly what his drooling base wanted from him (a president who was openly endorsed by every major white supremacist and neo-Nazi group in America is a president who should not surprise you when he opens his mouth and shit falls out) The next asshole thing that should have kept him from power in any civilized society that had morals and brains is only hours away, so I try to keep the outrage going at a sustainable rate rather than peaking every time he trolls the decent people of the world. It’s a long-haul game, folks.
3. Why he singled out the Norwegians as desirable immigrants is not really clear. What is clear is why Norwegians would have exactly zero interest in moving to a country stupid enough to elect der Sturmtrumper. They are ranked 1st in happiness (US = 19th), 13th in freedom (US = 23rd), 76th in murder rate (US = 9th), 2nd in gender equality (US = 45th), have a higher GDP per capita, better education rates, lower poverty rates, longer life expectancy, and full national health care. Maybe Americans should consider immigrating to Norway, though why they would let us come over is also not clear.
4. Der Sturmtrumper is now upset that the US embassy in London was moved and he’s blaming Obama for it. Except that it was George W. Bush who set that process in motion, because the old site was vulnerable to terrorist attack. The money they got for selling US property in London was enough to pay for the new embassy entirely, which means that it cost the American taxpayer not one red cent. Der Sturmtrumper’s own ambassador to the UK, Robert Johnson (who also owns the NY Jets) took pains to contradict his boss on every single point that der Sturmtrumper tried to make, in an article written for the Evening Standard, and former US ambassador to the UK Louis Susman simply noted of the current president that “As usual, he’s dead wrong.” But hey – “blame the black guy for imaginary problems” seems to be the motif of the current administration anyway (see Item #2 above).
5. Folks, do you realize what this is doing to American prestige, influence, and power in the world? What it means to have a president who labels entire nations as “shitholes” and who acts like a whiny toddler over embassies? We look like fools. And make no mistake: for electing and then tolerating this nitwit and his band of enablers we ARE fools. It will take a generation for the US to regain the respect and influence in the world that we have lost just in the last year, and if der Sturmtrumper continues on his current path we may never get it back. It’s possible we wouldn’t get it back anyway – powers rise and powers fall and the US is not immune from the laws of history – but to see that process accelerate like this at the hands of a malignant caricature of every negative stereotype the world has of us is certainly dispiriting.
6. As if on cue, the rest of the world responds as you would expect. Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, tweeted at der Sturmtrumper, “Your mouth is the foulest shithole in the world. With what authority do you proclaim who’s welcome in America and who’s not. America’s greatness is built on diversity, or have you forgotten your immigrant background, Donald?” (And isn’t it sad when foreigners have to remind the American president what this country really is?) Former Haitian president Laurent Lamothe says, “SHAME ON TRUMP! The world is witnessing a new low today with this Shithole Nations remark!” South Africa’s government called der Sturmtrumper’s racism “extremely offensive” and the African Union was “frankly alarmed.” El Salvador sent a formal letter of protest. EU lawmaker Gianni Pittella of Italy said that der Sturmtrumper “had forgotten to engage his brain before talking.” Michaelle Jean, former Governor General of Canada, called the comments “disturbing.” American diplomats around the world have been formally summoned by their host nations to explain der Sturmtrumper’s remarks, and one hopes they have something more to say than just the obvious “Well, he’s a racist asshole and we’re stuck with him.” And nothing will change because this is who der Sturmtrumper is and this is what his Nazi base is and this is what they voted for and this is what we’re stuck with until the GOP that controls Congress decides to locate its collective spine, put the national interest before partisan gain, and get rid of this deplorable embarrassment.
7. Apparently der Sturmtrumper believes that the US has sold “F-52s” to Norway recently. There are no F52s. They do exist in “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,” however, and when you’re already sufficiently divorced from reality that a diagnosis of schizophrenia is within sight, I suppose that’s a mistake you’re going to make.
8. So all the hype from the GOP about “job-killing regulations” turns out – once again! – to be so much nonsense when you actually look at the results. California, the bogeyman for the GOP in their campaign to reduce the US to a libertarian hellhole of atomized impoverished peasants lorded over by a neo-feudal aristocracy – seems to be doing quite well with its progressive policies. Despite higher taxes on the wealthy, more regulation of business, and a more complete social safety net, it turns out that California has higher employment, higher private sector employment, and a higher GDP than almost every GOP slash-and-burn state in America, even when other differences are taken into account. In other words, even when you bend over backward to give GOP states every benefit of the doubt, it is still true that supply-side economics does not work in a demand-side economy.
9. This administration is so transparently incompetent that they can’t even lie correctly. Der Sturmtrumper is on his “I’m Not Senile” tour and spent some time talking to Congress about DACA. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked him he might like to abandon his position and adopt the Democratic position on the issue, and instead of just saying “No” he said “Yeah, I would like to do it,” an answer that horrified House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). And when the White House released the official transcript of the meeting – an official US government document – oddly enough that line was missing. Seriously? This is third-grade nonsense, but par for the course with this group of stumblebums.
10. And on that note, CBS is reporting that nobody in the White House could figure out how to mute a conference call. During a conference call with over a hundred reporters regarding der Sturmtrumper’s position on the Iran nuclear agreement, White House staff spent more than twenty minutes unsuccessfully trying to mute the reporters. Eventually the reporters began openly mocking them. “This White House can’t even run a fucking conference call. They don’t know how to mute their line,” said one. “This is Kim Jong Un calling for Donald Trump,” said another. No wonder the world laughs at us now. MAGA, amiright?
11. Speaking of incompetence, der Sturmtrumper went on the Twitter machine to boast about a Quinnipiac Poll that said that 66% of Americans think the economy is “excellent” or “good.” Except that that same poll says that 49% of Americans credit Obama for this (vs. 40% who think der Sturmtrumper had something to do with it). Only 24% of voters say that der Sturmtrumper’s policies are helping their personal financial situation. Meanwhile 63% of Americans say that der Sturmtrumper is not honest, 59% say he has poor leadership skills, 59% say he does not care about average Americans, 69% say he is not level-headed, 66% say he has damaged the US reputation in the world, and 57% say he is unfit to serve as president. His net approval rating is -23%, down from -8% in January and -9% in February. And this is the poll he is so proud of.
12. Jim Wright points out the obvious about this particular bit of Twitter foolishness, noting that der Sturmtrumper’s boast came out 34 minutes after Fox & Friends showed a graphic of exactly the stat he boasted about: “He’s taking Fox News – and not just Fox News, but Fox & Friends, an admitted OPINION show – as fact. He does not follow up research of his own. Nobody on his staff provides him with any additional information. He simply takes Fox & Friends as gospel. Don’t think for one second foreign intelligence agencies haven’t noticed this. Don’t think our own security people haven’t noticed this. Trump is uniquely vulnerable to manipulation. Trump is at the moment the single greatest threat to national security.”
13. Wait, a month before the election der Sturmtrumper’s lawyers paid a former porn star $130,000 in hush money to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual encounter with him? First of all, if I were her they couldn’t pay me enough to talk about it in the first place. They could have saved their money. Hell, I’d pay them to keep it quiet. Second, if I were him I’d have put that money into advertising and plastered the airwaves with that claim, just to prove that it was even remotely plausible.
14. The fact that this news isn’t even remotely the most disturbing and degraded thing that has come out about der Sturmtrumper just in the last week is kind of sad, really. As Jess Dweck put it on Twitter, “’I hope the news of him paying off a porn star doesn’t distract from the news of him calling non-white countries shitholes’ is a sentence we can now say about the President of the United States.” Remember when the word “presidential” meant dignified and statesmanlike rather than embarrassing and juvenile? It wasn’t that long ago, after all.
15. And now credible rumors are spreading that Melania is seriously considering divorce. In her place, I certainly would.
16. The fact that der Sturmtrumper’s private personal lawyer formed a private company just before the 2016 election in order to pay hush money to a porn star (which nobody has denied, not even the lawyer), a woman who has publicly spoken about the affair she had with der Sturmtrumper four months after his third wife gave birth of his youngest child, and his adoring GOP cultists don’t care is a damning indictment of the hypocrisy of the so-called “values voters” who make up that faction. I hadn’t realized that adultery and bribery were so highly valued.
17. This is also the guy who is trying to allow so-called “Christians” in the healthcare field to deny treatment to LGBT American citizens if they find that lifestyle not to their taste. Uh, what now? What part of der Sturmtrumper is to the taste of anyone who is Christian in more than just name? I have no idea how anyone can be a right-winger and a Christian at the same time.
18. More and more Republican officials are declining to run for reelection this year in the face of what is likely to be a historic Democratic wave (assuming, of course, that GOP efforts to suppress voters and miscount results aren’t successful [here’s looking at you, Waukesha County, Wisconsin]). Traditionally the party in power loses ground in the midterm elections anyway. Add to that the sobering unpopularity of der Sturmtrumper to drag the ticket down and the equally sobering unpopularity of the GOP agenda (how do you pass a tax cut so vast that it destroys any fiscal sanity left in the federal government and still have the overwhelming majority of Americans hate it? Well, let the GOP tell you!), and this could be a very good year for getting this country off its track toward destruction.
19. Of course, never underestimate the ability of the Democratic Party to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. I’ll believe the results when I see the results.
20. Speaking of the midterm elections, it appears that Sheriff Joe Arpaio – the human dumpster fire who was pardoned by der Sturmtrumper because hey, petit-Fascist wannabes need to stick together, right? – is planning to run for Jeff Flake’s seat. Seriously, Arizona – do you not have any Republicans who aren’t complete scum? Could you maybe nominate one? Thanks.
21. Newsweek is reporting that in the spring of 2017 der Sturmtrumper met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and was apparently shocked to discover that the vast majority of welfare recipients in the US are not black. Amazing! It’s true! Statistically speaking, the typical welfare recipient is a white person without a college degree. Strangely enough, so is the typical Trump voter. The reader is invited to draw their own conclusions from that.
22. So it turns out that Hawaii wasn’t destroyed by ballistic missiles after all, despite the “this is not a drill” warnings that were posted in error. Two things stand out about this. First, how plausible it is under the erratic and destructive rule of der Sturmtrumper that such an attack would be launched in the first place. And second, how silent der Sturmtrumper has been about it – no reassurances, no calm leadership, just more rage-Tweets about distractions. This is a complete abdication of leadership from a complete void of a leader, and a worrying preview of what will happen if there ever is a real crisis that needs to be addressed with more than just a racist Tweet. We need to make America not embarrassing again.
23. If you’re looking for further evidence that der Sturmtrumper is no longer mentally competent, you need look no further than the interview he gave to the Wall Street Journal, published on January 14. Sweet dancing monkeys on a stick but that’s a psychologist’s nightmare. He has no idea what he’s talking about. He rambles. He makes absurd claims that are easily debunked by anyone with three minutes to spare. He has no idea what his own schedule is. This is a man in way over his head.
24. I will not be silent. I will not be complicit. I will not accept the moral failure of this administration and its supporters. I will speak and I will be heard.
25. Analysis of FBI crime reports indicates that states that have legalized marijuana – particularly those states close to the Mexican border, where some of the most violent drug cartels in the world operate – have seen significant declines in crime. Overall, robbery fell by 19% in those states, murder fell by 10%, and murders related to the drug trade fell by 41%. Remind me again why our Confederate Attorney General wants to overrule all this?
26. In any normal administration, the House Intelligence Committee’s release of the transcript of the transcript of their interview with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson would have created enough outrage to destroy the administration completely, but we live in an era where partisan beliefs are more important than criminal acts or reality itself and so the GOP continues to support der Sturmtrumper. It’s clear that der Sturmtrumper is a front for the Russian mafia, unwitting or not. The financial records are clear, and they speak of money laundering and other criminal activity dating back long before he seized control of the federal government. They own him. Consider that when you think of who’s got their tiny little hands on the levers of power in this country today.
27. One thing that is now obvious is that the FBI was already investigating links between der Sturmtrumper’s campaign and the Russian government before they got their hands on the Steele dossier, which directly contradicts one of the key GOP talking points in their continuing effort to discredit the investigation into der Sturmtrumper’s collusion with Russian intelligence. This wasn’t some grand scheme of Hillary Clinton’s opposition research team – it was merely corroborating evidence for an ongoing criminal investigation. No doubt the GOP will continue to trumpet their pet narrative, since facts don’t matter much to them anymore and haven’t for over a decade, but there you have it.
27. Another juicy little fact that the transcripts show is how the Russians infiltrated and used the NRA. The FBI is investigating Alexsandr Torshin, a close associate of Vladimir Putin, for funneling money through the NRA in order to help der Sturmtrumper’s campaign, a violation of American law. Maria Butina is also under investigation for similar crimes. The NRA long ago declared war on Americans, and I suppose they now have the foreign influence to go with it. Given the fact that the NRA pretty much owns the GOP and has for decades, you can imagine how much the pressure to fire Robert Mueller will ratchet up as this line of inquiry gets more serious.
28. In what might just be the single most Orwellian act by the United States government in its long and inglorious history, der Sturmtrumper’s Health and Human Services Department has just created a “Conscience and Religious Freedom” division in order to allow people’s personal faith to triumph over federal law, Constitutional requirements, and basic human decency. This is little more than a right-wing extremist way to circumvent laws requiring that American citizens be treated as American citizens. This is how they’ll deny women the right to control their own bodies, the right of anyone not straight, white, evangelical Protestant and male the right to pretty much any law that somebody’s blasphemous Dominionism gets vapors from seeing. Of course, two can play at this game. The Church of the Enlightened Mind does not hold with rampant stupidity, flagrant bigotry, economic injustice, Constitutional violations, or pretty much anything that that makes der Sturmtrumper and his enablers richer or more powerful, so perhaps I can file some lawsuits soon.
29. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR, and the second-most bone-ignorant man in the legislature after Ron Johnson) is apparently such a delicate petal that he regards contact from his constituents as harassment and has sent cease-and-desist letters demanding that they stop all communication with him or he will have them arrested. Because your elected representatives don’t actually have to represent you, citizen – they’re too busy dancing on the strings pulled by their donors and creating an unaccountable aristocracy to care about mere citizens. Thanks, Republicans, for making your priorities so clear.
30. It’s perhaps not surprising that turnover in der Sturmtrumper’s White House has been higher than any president in recent memory. Among key officials (i.e. not the low-level coffee-fetchers but the folks who actually have Access and Influence), 34% of der Sturmtrumper’s people have already left. Compare that to 17% of Reagan’s in his first year, or 11% of Clinton’s, 9% for Obama, 7% for Bush Sr., and 6% for Bush Jr. Who wants to work for this train wreck? It’s just a sure-fire way to destroy your reputation and prospects (just ask Sean Spicer, after all). Given that turnover in Year 2 is almost always markedly higher, even for normal administrations led by actual competent presidents, and 2018 is likely to be quite a year.
31. For those who missed it, in a court filing on January 18, White House Director of Information Technology Charles Herndon said that the administration has not, in fact, discovered any voter fraud in the 2016 election and would be destroying confidential voter data that had been collected for the now-disbanded Voter Suppression Commission. Kris Kobach, who has made Voter Suppression his pet cause and expects to ride it into the Kansas governor’s mansion when all this is over, presumably on the strength of the five carefully vetted voters who will still be on the Kansas voting rolls when Koblach is done (three of whom, in an ironic twist, will turn out to be Koblach himself wearing different wigs), continues to insist that there must have been such fraud because, well, he really, really believes it with all his heart and all his soul and we live in an era where Truth is measured by strength of belief, not factual accuracy. Given the court filing attesting that such fraud does not actually exist, one may draw the relevant conclusions about Koblach’s heart and soul on one’s own.
32. Oh, for fuck’s sake, now those incompetent fools have shut down the government. For the first time in American history, a party that controlled all three branches of the federal government couldn’t get out of its own way long enough to keep the lights on. Next time try governing, guys.
33. They had a deal on the table that would have kept this from happening. The Democrats got DACA and CHIP, and the GOP got significant money for border security. All it needed was der Sturmtrumper to get out of the way. This was the meeting that degenerated into the “shithole” comment, in case you’re wondering.
34. The GOP is in full “blame the other guys” mode, but consider: they own all three branches of government. They ended DACA without anything to replace it. They let CHIP die despite the fact that it would be cheaper for the American taxpayer to renew it and despite the outright moral failure of using children’s health as a political bargaining tool (I’ve learned over the years not to get into moral arguments with right-wingers, as all I get out of them is older). They couldn’t even get all of their own party on board with the grab-bag of special interest giveaways and failed policies that got thrown into the Continuing Resolution. They blew their shot at avoiding a 60-vote threshold during the failure to repeal the ACA, a program that is saving American lives and money and is broadly popular among the electorate. They spent the rest of their time in power on useless pandering to the worst elements of their base (“some fine people”) rather than governing. Der Sturmtrumper has repeatedly called for just this shutdown and now he has it. The #TrumpShutdown is real and will likely be here for a while.
35. In case you’re thinking it’s just people like me who understand this, consider GOP strategist John Weaver, whose credits include working for John Kasich and John McCain. “Trump created the DACA crisis,” he wrote. “The congressional wing of the GOP refused to fund CHIP. Trump & GOP ignored the pleas of the Pentagon for a fully funded budget. All of this is on them.”
36. For those who think the Democrats are forcing the military to work without pay, remember that it was Mitch McConnell, at 1:17am on the night he engineered this shutdown, who objected to a floor vote to continue military pay and benefits for the duration of the #TrumpShutdown. You know, the Romans eventually figured out that treating a swollen and powerful military poorly tends not to work out well for a republic. I wonder how long it will take the GOP to figure that out.
37. The last time the government shut down, back in 2013 when the GOP Congress decided that petty partisan politics was more important than doing their jobs (wow, familiar…), Fox “News” asked der Sturmtrumper “Who’s gonna bear the brunt of the responsibility if indeed there is a shutdown of our government?” And der Sturmtrumper responded, “Who gets fired? Well, it always has to be the top. Problems start form the top. And they have to get solved from the top. The president’s the leader. And he’s gotta get everybody in a room and he’s gotta lead!” I wonder if he still feels that way.
38. So far the main thing der Sturmtrumper has done about the #TrumpShutdown is, as usual, send out junior-high-level rage-Tweets blaming the Democrats. One accused them of “holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration.” This led Senator Tammy Duckworth – a decorated combat veteran – to respond with “I spend my entire adult life looking out for the well-being, the training, and the equipping of the troops for whom I was responsible. I will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five-deferment draft dodger.” Put some ice on that burn, Donny.
39. Well, he did say he’d run the country like one of his businesses. Most of those shut down too.
40. Apparently #TrumpShutdown was the top trending topic on Twitter on the night the federal government was shutdown. You can’t fool all of the people all of the time, boys – we’re onto you.
41. Just in case you were wondering about the level of maturity in the White House, know that after the #TrumpShutdown happened, they changed the outgoing message on the telephone comment line to blame the Democrats for it. Seriously – I’ve known third-graders more mature than this lot.
42. According to the Washington Post, which has been tracking such things, der Sturmtrumper has made over 2100 false or misleading claims in the year he’s been in office. That’s about 5.9 per day, on average. What’s impressive, according to the Post, is that when confronted with hard evidence that he’s lying he does not, as most politicians will, drop the false claims and move on. Instead he doubles down on them, sure that his cultish base will believe him over reality. And really, can you deny it?
42. In yet another example of the fact that the GOP can’t handle basic facts, the latest right-wing conspiracy theory is that Medicaid is fueling the opioid epidemic. They point to the undeniable fact that opioid abuse is higher among the poor and in states that expanded Medicaid. Except that correlation isn’t causality, as anyone who has taken a basic statistics class could have told them. Medicaid expansion happened in 2014, nearly two decades after opioid abuse rates started rising and three years after the CDC called the opioid crisis an epidemic. Most opioid problems are caused by fentanyl and heroin rather than the prescription opioids that can be obtained by Medicaid. And opioid overdoses have been increasing across all American social classes, not just the poor. So nice try, guys. Next time try some reality for a change.
43. I think I’ll let conservative columnist David Frum have the last word here. Frum has a new book out, Trumpocracy, that makes some interesting points. He describes the “chaos” of der Sturmtrumper’s regime and the corrosive effect this is having on American institutions and values. He talks about the increasing inequality of this country and the consequences this will have if not addressed. And perhaps most importantly, he discusses the complete abdication of the Republican Party from restraining a rogue president of their party. In an interview with Sean Illing, Frum puts it clearly.
“Let’s talk about Trump’s enablers in the Republican Party,” says Illing, “the people in power who have failed to do what they know they ought to do. How surprised are you by the capitulations of Republicans in the Trump era?”
“I’m horrified, but I’m not shocked,” Frum replied. “The Republican Party has a platform that can’t prevail in democratic competition. This is one of the big themes of this book, and why I think this situation is so dangerous. When highly committed parties believe things that they cannot achieve democratically, they don’t give up on their beliefs. They give up on democracy.”