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. In what has to be the least competent bullshit PR manufacture of fake outrage ever perpetrated by a supposed grown-up, Vice President Mike “Toady” Pence flew to Indiana on the taxpayer’s dime, pretended to go to a football game, and then walked out in high dudgeon because several Americans were peacefully exercising their First Amendment right of political protest. He and der Sturmtrumper later publicly admitted that this was a set-up from the word Go, that Pence – whose testicles are apparently sitting in a jar on the Oval Office desk – was simply following orders from der Sturmtrumper.
2. Let’s walk through that, shall we? A sitting vice president, on orders from his boss, spends nearly a quarter of a million dollars in taxpayer funds that might have been better used for, say, working to give American citizens in hurricane-damaged areas access to electricity, food, and clean water, to go to a sporting event. This event was long-planned as a tribute to a once-in-a-generation athlete who played for the home team and whom Mike “Toady” Pence insists he is a big fan of. Pence and der Sturmtrumper know full well that there will be Americans exercising their Constitutional right to peaceful political protest at this game. So they deliberately upstage the tribute in order to score petty points with their drooling base over a non-issue that is specifically designed to distract Americans from the failure of der Sturmtrumper’s administration to achieve even basic bureaucratic competence. Have I missed a step here? Is there more to this? Or have I pretty much gotten the message here?
Do you think der Sturmtrumper will fire THIS “son of a bitch” for protesting on the job? Not that he can, legally, but still. Just one more example of how flexible the right wing can be when they’re not hampered by principles or morals.
4. Good thing the Party of Patriotism and Fiscal Responsibility is in charge, so they can waste money grandstanding against the Constitution.
5. Speaking of fiscal responsibility, the analyses of der Sturmtrumper’s budgetary war on America are coming in, and they are not pretty. Here in Wisconsin, 61% of the value of the proposed tax cuts will go to the top 1%, while the bottom 60% will split 12% of the value (the bottom 20% only get to divide up 1% of the value of the cuts, so shop early!). Millionaires – 0.5% of the state’s population – will get 54% of the value of the tax cut. To put some dollar amounts on this, the bottom 20% of the population will see a tax cut of $60 per person. Don’t spend it all in one place. The top 1% will see $75,550 in cuts per person, which is more than the bottom 50% even earn. And 13% of taxpayers would actually have to pay more in taxes. Meanwhile this will cost the US about $5,600,000,000,000 over the next decade or so, according to nonpartisan analysis. You know, it takes a twisted kind of genius to raise taxes on more than one American out of every ten and still blow a hole in the national debt big enough to float an aircraft carrier through.
6. No, that metaphor was not accidental.
7. The fucking Nazis continue to march in Virginia. A pop-up rally of a couple dozen of them disgraced the park where one of them murdered a peaceful protester back in August. Remember, folks – this country used to give medals to people who shot Nazis and we called those people The Greatest Generation for doing so. We used to understand that Nazis were scum. The fact that there are people in political office today who coddle Nazis is a sign that the American republic is faltering badly. Seriously – fuck the Nazis.
8. It’s been fun watching the conflict between Republican Senator Bob Corker – a reliably conservative but not mindlessly partisan politician – and der Sturmtrumper over the last few days here. Corker, who was once briefly considered as a running mate for der Sturmtrumper before that prize fell to the Toady, has announced his retirement from the Senate after two terms in office, and apparently this was enough of an issue to der Sturmtrumper – who, as president, is in theory the leader of the GOP, as much as that collection of driftless con artists can be said to have a leader these days – that he launched several of his patented Twitter ragefests from the White House shitter. Corker responded by saying, “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” Note carefully that not a single Democrat was involved in this exchange. Not sure who der Sturmtrumper thinks is going to support anything he wants, at this rate.
9. Corker also noted for the record that der Sturmtrumper is treating the presidency like “a reality show” – “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something” – and this should be a cause for alarm among American citizens who actually have a clue about reality. Der Sturmtrumper’s reckless disregard for anything beyond his own ego is leading the US down “the path to World War III,” with his juvenile threats toward other countries, and it is only through the heroic efforts of senior officials in the White House that der Sturmtrumper hasn’t already brought himself and the US to grief. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” he told the New York Times. Corker singled out James Mattis, Rex Tillerson, and John Kelly as the thin blue-suited line separating the United States from the unmitigated psychosis of der Sturmtrumper unleashed.
10. Corker also said what pretty much every intelligent observer already knows – that the GOP knows full well what a disaster der Sturmtrumper is as a political leader, and is simply unwilling to face it. “Look,” he said, “except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we we’re dealing with here. … [O]f course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.” The thing is, of course, that the GOP still thinks they can harness der Sturmtrumper and use him to implement their agenda. The stakes for that particular gamble are rather high, and even if they win the rest of us still lose. We lose either way, not that this bothers the GOP.
11. Robert Reich spoke with a friend of his – a former GOP Congressman – who, like many Republicans who are not constrained by political ambition, is willing to be honest about der Sturmtrumper and what he is doing to both their party and my country. It’s worth quoting in full:
Me: So what’s up? Is Corker alone, or are others also ready to call it quits with Trump?
He: All I know is they’re simmering over there.
Me: Flake and McCain have come pretty close.
He: Yeah. Others are thinking about doing what Bob did. Sounding the alarm. They think Trump’s nuts. Unfit. Dangerous.
Me: Well, they already knew that, didn’t they?
He: But now it’s personal. It started with the Sessions stuff. Jeff was as loyal as they come. Trump’s crapping on him was like kicking your puppy. And then, you know, him beating up on Mitch for the Obamacare fiasco. And going after Flake and the others.
Me: So they're pissed off?
He: Not just that. I mean, they have thick hides. The personal stuff got them to notice all the other things. The wild stuff, like those threats to North Korea. Tillerson would leave tomorrow if he wasn’t so worried Trump would go nuclear, literally.
Me: You think Trump is really thinking nuclear war?
He: Who knows what’s in his head? But I can tell you this. He’s not listening to anyone. Not a soul. He’s got the nuclear codes and, well, it scares the hell out of me. It’s starting to scare all of them. That’s really why Bob spoke up.
Me: So what could they do? I mean, even if the whole Republican leadership was willing to say publicly he’s unfit to serve, what then?
He: Bingo! The emperor has no clothes. It’s a signal to everyone they can bail. Have to bail to save their skins. I mean, Trump could be the end of the whole goddam Republican party.
Me: If he starts a nuclear war, that could be the end of everything.
He: Yeah, right. So when they start bailing on him, the stage is set.
Me: For what?
He: Impeachment. 25th amendment.
Me: You think Republicans would go that far?
He: Not yet. Here’s the thing. They really want to get this tax bill through. That’s all they have going for them. They don’t want to face voters in ’18 or ’20 without something to show for it. They’re just praying Trump doesn’t do something really, really stupid before the tax bill.
Me: Like a nuclear war?
He: Look, all I can tell you is many of the people I talk with are getting freaked out. It’s not as if there’s any careful strategizing going on. Not like, well, do we balance the tax bill against nuclear war? No, no. They’re worried as hell. They’re also worried about Trump crazies, all the ignoramuses he’s stirred up. I mean, Roy Moore? How many more of them do you need to destroy the party?
Me: So what’s gonna happen?
He: You got me. I’m just glad I’m not there anymore. Trump’s not just a moron. He’s a despicable human being. And he’s getting crazier. Paranoid. Unhinged. Everyone knows it. I mean, we’re in shit up to our eyeballs with this guy.
12. Of course the problem with relying on people to constrain der Sturmtrumper, as The Atlantic has pointed out, is that this means there are a lot of people in the federal government circumventing Constitutional processes for the good of the nation. Such as the military. Or, to quote directly: “Good news: The people containing the commander-in-chief have to a considerable extent succeeded. The United States has not launched a pre-emptive attack on North Korea, abandoned Estonia to the Russians, cancelled NAFTA, or started a trade war with China—each and every one of those outcomes a seemingly live possibility if you heeded Trump’s own words. Bad news: the national security services are apparently coping with Donald Trump in ways that circumvent the president's constitutional role as commander in chief. … The military and intelligence agencies are learning new habits of disregard for presidential statements and even orders that those agencies deem ignorant or reckless. By and large, those agencies’ judgments are vastly to be preferred to the president’s—but that does not make these habits any less dangerous.” One of the critical factors in the historically rather unlikely survival of the American republic has been its strict subordination of the military and related services to civilian control. When they are forced by the instability of the civilian leadership to use subterfuge or even outright defiance against that leadership for the greater good of the nation, that sets a very bad precedent. What happens when the next president isn’t psychotic, criminal, or treasonous the way this one is, but simply follows policies that the military does not like?
13. If you’ve ever wondered just how little the abortion issue actually matters to the right-wing extremists who push it as if it were somehow the most important issue on earth, consider Colorado. That state has managed to cut abortions by 42% over the last five years. How? By giving out free birth control. You’d think this would make the anti-abortion zealots happy, but it does not – they’re the same idiots campaigning to get rid of this program, because it’s not about abortion and it’s not about human life. It’s about restricting individual liberty and denying women the right to control their own bodies. We have reached the point where The Handmaid’s Tale is starting to look like a documentary.
14. Of course der Sturmtrumper – a man whose ego has its own staff, including a social secretary and a fluffer – couldn’t let Senator Corker’s words go by without lashing out like the bewigged toddler that he is. He’s decided that Corker’s height – 5’7” – is enough of an issue to insult him with, though how this is relevant he refused to explain.
15. Given that Corker is a key senator in his own party, one who has far more friends on Capitol Hill than der Sturmtrumper does, who will remain in office for another fifteen months, and who has the power to toss der Sturmtrumper overboard without fear of consequences, der Sturmtrumper’s decision to go after him like that is, um, blisteringly stupid. Par for the course, really.
16. The Washington Post, in an article trying to understand der Sturmtrumper’s recent all-out assault on his own government, noted that his own staff and confidants describe him as a “whistling teapot,” someone who has to vent or explode. Given that so many of his recent tantrums have been directed at the GOP he supposedly leads as president, it’s not surprising that there may well be consequences for all this acting out. “We’ve been watching the slow-motion breakup of the Republican Party,” said Patrick Caddell, a veteran pollster and ally of Former President Steve Bannon, “and Trump is doing what he can to speed it up.” Couldn’t happen to a nicer group of old white men.
17. For those of you who don’t understand the intimate connection between the right-wing assault on the social safety net in this country and their complete embrace of aggressive, systematic racism (and who haven’t read the iconic Lee Atwater quote on the issue, which should be carved into granite slabs and placed at the entryways of every news outlet and public building in America), there is always statistical analysis. A marvelous study published by the Urban Institute this past summer points to a simple correlation. As Paul Krugman noted when describing the study, “We are uniquely unwilling to take care of our fellow citizens. And behind that political difference lies one overwhelming fact: the legacy of slavery. All too often, white Americans think of the social safety net not as something for people like themselves fallen on hard times, but as a giveaway to Those People. This isn’t idle speculation. If you want to understand why policies toward the poor are so different at the state level, why some states offer so much less support to troubled families with children, one predictor stands out: the African-American share of the population. The more blacks, the less compassion white voters feel.” This is perhaps why only 2 of the 11 states of the treasonous former Confederacy bothered to implement the ACA – a far lower percentage than in the US as a whole.
18. Am I the only one who thinks that the recent spat between Ivana and Melania Trump over who is the real First Lady is just the most pathetic thing since the last drowned raccoon he saw by the highway?
19. Further thoughts on the dysfunctionality of der Sturmtrumper’s approach to, well, everything come from GOP pollster Whit Ayres: “Donald Trump got elected with minority support from the American electorate, and most of his efforts thus far are focused on energizing and solidifying the 40 percent of Americans who were with him, primarily by attacking the 60 percent who were not. That is great for his supporters, but it makes it very difficult to accomplish anything in a democracy.” This is perhaps why der Sturmtrumper is doing his best to remove any trace of democracy in the US.
20. And, like magic, der Sturmtrumper’s Fascist tendencies come burbling right up almost as soon as I typed that last item – and yes, as a historian, I actually do know what Fascism is (hint: it’s a coherent ideology, not a synonym for “shit I personally don’t like” the way most Americans use the term). According to NBC, the proximate cause of Exxon’s Own Secretary of State Tillerson labeling der Sturmtrumper a “moron” (a “fucking moron” in other news reports) was der Sturmtrumper’s saying he wanted to increase the American nuclear weapons stockpile nearly tenfold – a multi-trillion dollar waste of time that would do nothing to increase American security. When this was pointed out, der Sturmtrumper took to his Twitter feed and threatened to withhold broadcasting licenses from NBC (or, more accurately, its affiliates, since NBC itself doesn’t have such a license to begin with). The fact that this is exactly the sort of state-sponsored retaliatory censorship that the Founding Fathers wrote the First Amendment to prevent didn’t seem to occur to der Sturmtrumper and has yet to occur to his supporters, who so far seem okay with it. But this is classic Fascism, for those keeping score at home.
21. According to Vanity Fair, more and more prominent GOP leaders are coming to the conclusion – obvious to the rest of us years ago – that der Sturmtrumper is “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.” The article’s author, Gabriel Sherman, “spoke with a half dozen prominent Republicans and Trump advisers, and they all describe a White House in crisis as advisers struggle to contain a president who seems to be increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods. Trump’s ire is being fueled by his stalled legislative agenda and, to a surprising degree, by his decision last month to back the losing candidate Luther Strange in the Alabama Republican primary. “Alabama was a huge blow to his psyche,” a person close to Trump said. “He saw the cult of personality was broken.” At the current rate, it will be a race to see whether he is impeached, removed because of the 25th Amendment, or annihilates himself and the rest of us in some paranoia-fueled nuclear war. But he doesn’t finish his term.
22. One of the more interesting features of der Sturmtrumper’s proposed tax plan is that it will expand the use of “pass-throughs” – entities that pass income through to their final recipient in order to lower the tax burden on that recipient. This was a key feature of the tax plan that Sam Brownback – the only governor in the US more beholden to the Koch Brothers than Wisconsin’s own Governor Teabagger – shoved through the Kansas legislature in 2012, and it was such a dismal failure that even the GOP recognized it. The tax plan overall reduced state revenue by nearly $700 million a year (about 8%) and forced Kansas to shorten school years, stop repairing their highways, and cut aid to all but the rich. It also didn’t do anything to stimulate jobs, the way that the magical thinking supply-siders insist that such things ought to do. The Kansas legislature, still controlled by Republicans, finally repealed Brownback’s plan this year because it didn’t work. And now it’s coming to the nation as a whole, because learning from catastrophic error just isn’t the sort of thing that the modern GOP does.
23. Der Sturmtrumper has pulled the United States out of UNESCO, because it’s somehow too anti-Israel for him. So let me get this straight – a cultural organization dedicated to peace, culture, scientific progress, educational opportunities, and human rights is too anti-Israel for der Sturmtrumper, but actual fucking Nazis marching through the streets of America is just fine? I certainly hope there were high quality illegal drugs involved in this decision, because otherwise it’s just more evidence of insanity.
24. Der Sturmtrumper is also threatening to pull disaster relief aid from Puerto Rico, despite promising Texas that such aid would be infinite and ongoing. Can you guess what the difference is between PR and TX? Here’s a hint: it’s not citizenship, since Puerto Ricans are in fact American citizens. Guess again!
25. One interesting little observation I read recently was that since Puerto Ricans are, in fact, American citizens and Puerto Rico has effectively been destroyed, it is entirely likely and 100% legal that there will be something of an exodus of Puerto Ricans (predominantly Democratic-leaning) into Florida. Assuming the GOP hasn’t eliminated the right to vote for anyone not in the GOP by that point, the consequences of that might be interesting.
26. Has anyone bothered to tell der Sturmtrumper that he is the president of the US Virgin Islands?
27. You know, if you have to sabotage something in order to kill it, that’s a pretty good sign that it wasn’t failing to begin with. And having failed to shove Republicare down the throats of an unwilling America (seriously, not even Republicans wanted that fetid pile of ideological dung), der Sturmtrumper has decided to go it alone by systematically destroying the things that make the ACA work and then complaining that it is now broken. This is the standard GOP operating procedure, I have found – having lived in Wisconsin for some time now and watched Governor Teabagger (a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) rip apart a world-class educational system for ideological gain. Find something that benefits someone other than the wealthy. Break it. Demand “reforms” that effectively kill it and then turn it into something that only benefits the wealthy. Profit. It’s not a difficult pattern to figure out, really.
28. Almost 70% of the people who will be hurt by der Sturmtrumper’s unilateral decision to end the cost-sharing subsidies that help to make the ACA function live in states that voted for him. Not that he cares. The casual cruelty of this president and those who continue to support him really does boggle the mind.
29. For a guy who claims to be such a businessman, der Sturmtrumper really didn’t impress those people who tried to teach him how to be a businessman. William T. Kelley taught Marketing at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania when der Sturmtrumper was a student there. He literally wrote the textbook on marketing. Long before der Sturmtrumper even thought of entering politics, he told a friend – repeatedly – that “Donald Trump was the DUMBEST GODDAM student I EVER had,” an arrogant and empty-headed cipher who somehow felt he already knew it all. We now know this as Dunning-Krueger Syndrome. Maybe we’ll need to rename it after der Sturmtrumper.
30. Of course, this is the guy who tried to say that advances in the stock market somehow meant that the US was paying down the national debt under his watch – two things that have nothing whatever to do with each other, for those of you keeping track at home – and then less than 48 hours later gloated about how his sabotaging of the ACA made healthcare industry stocks plummet. By his own logic, if one can dignify the random verbal diarrhea that spurts from his mouth as such, this should be increasing the debt, right? And even in the realm of reality, where the stock market and the national debt aren't connected, I’m not sure why a guy who is theoretically so pro-business leading a party that is theoretically so pro-business should be celebrating the plunging stock values of an entire industry, particularly when that plunge is his fault.
31. Not only is der Sturmtrumper killing the healthcare industry – one-sixth of the economy, if I recall correctly – he is also doing his best to destroy the tourism economy. According to Forbes Magazine, while tourism in the rest of the world has increased by 4.6%, tourism here in the US has dropped by 1.4% since der Sturmtrumper was inaugurated. That’s a 6% relative drop, and it began January 28, a week after the inauguration. Der Sturmtrumper has not seen a quarter with a rising tourism number for the US. This should not surprise anyone, since his belligerently ignorant stance on anyone not white, Protestant, wealthy, and and/or wrapped in a Confederate flag is well known to the world at large. Tourism is the seventh largest employer in the US and over 80% of the companies involved in it identify themselves as small businesses. The drop so far this year means $2.7 billion in lost revenue. Such a businessman, our little Sturmtrumper.
32. GOP Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada has been surprisingly blunt about der Sturmtrumper’s sabotage of the ACA. “It’s going to hurt people,” he said. “it’s going to hurt kids. It’s going to hurt families. It’s going to hurt individuals. It’s going to hurt people with mental health issues. It’s going to hurt veterans. It’s going to hurt everybody. … This is going to make it much more difficult for those people out in the rural counties and in the urban areas to be able to obtain affordable insurance.” So there are a few Republican leaders who understand the reality of the situation. Whether they have the clout to turn their party away from its war on the American people will be interesting to see.
33. In case you’re wondering why people who pay attention to things consider the GOP to be far more corrupt than the Democrats, well, it’s just math. Since 1964 there have been 25 years where the Democrats have held the presidency and 28 years of Republican control. Counting only the executive branch officials that would be relevant by that metric (i.e. not Congress or judicial officials), Democrats have seen a total of three criminal indictments (2 under Clinton, one under Carter – which, if you do the math, means 0 for Johnson and 0 for Obama), one conviction, and one prison sentence (both under Clinton). Meanwhile, Republicans have seen 120 criminal indictments, 89 convictions, and 34 prison sentences. Break that down and you have 16 indictments, 16 convictions, and 9 prison sentences for George W. Bush, 1 indictment, 1 conviction, and 1 prison sentence for Bush Sr., 26 indictments, 16 convictions, and 8 prison sentences for Reagan, 1 indictment, 1 conviction, and 1 prison sentence for Ford, and 76 indictments, 55 convictions, and 15 prison sentences for Nixon. The entire Democratic total is less than a third of Bush Jr’s total. But go ahead, tell me there’s no difference between the parties.
34. The more we discover about Russian interference with the American political process on behalf of der Sturmtrumper and his minions, the worse it gets. It’s not that they particularly like der Sturmtrumper or his pets, but rather that they find such people to be, in the gloriously apt Leninist phrase, “useful idiots.” According to Jonathon Morgan, a former State Department advisor on digital responses to terrorism, “The broader Russian strategy is pretty clearly about destabilizing the country by focusing on and amplifying existing divisions, rather than supporting any one political party,” and this has only intensified since the installation of der Sturmtrumper’s regime. Russian intelligence has pretty effectively compromised Facebook and Twitter, and has made serious inroads into other social media platforms as well. You know, folks, it’s looking increasingly likely that the US recently lost a war we didn’t even know we were fighting, and now we have our own Vichy regime telling us that this is just fine. It’s not fine, in case you were wondering.
35. Is it normal for a sitting US Secretary of State to appear on CNN to reassure us that he still has his testicles? Asking for a friend.
36. Der Sturmtrumper’s assassination of the ACA will likely come back to haunt him, as it is now pretty clear that he owns the wreckage of the American health care system. He thinks it will force Democrats to bargain with him, but they know very well that it just means the GOP will face the full effect of having forced insurance premiums to skyrocket. Don’t think that the larger GOP hasn’t figured this out, either. But, split between their extremist right wing working to burn the US down and piss on the ashes and their saner Wall Street wing that just wants a stable system they can profit from, look for them to be as effective as ever when trying to come up with a solution.
37. All of this means that the House of Representatives is in play for the Democrats in 2018. Do you have any idea how stupid that is? The House has been so thoroughly gerrymandered by the GOP that even a remote possibility of it turning Democratic is an achievement of political boneheadedness of Biblical proportions. I’m not saying it will turn Democratic, or even that such a thing is likely. But it’s possible, and that’s astonishing.
38. Senator John “No Fucks Left to Give” McCain has apparently been liberated by his impending retirement. Accepting a Liberty Medal in Philadelphia, he rather pointedly noted that, “To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain the last best hope of earth for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.” Now if only we could hear things like this from GOP leaders who were not retiring, we might make progress.
39. As if on cue, Former Representative David Jolly (R-FL) chimes in with a description of der Sturmtrumper as “unstable,” “risky when it comes to matters of national security,” and “an ill-tempered, unqualified and at times dangerous leader.” In an interview on MSNBC Jolly said, “I personally as a Republican in the past few weeks have wondered, is the republic safer if Democrats take over the House in 2018. I raised that issue with the leading Republican in D.C. last week, and the remarkable thing is he had been thinking exactly the same thing. This is a president that needs a greater check on his power than Republicans in Congress have offered. … We do know that we have a president who very well might put this nation at risk and this Republican Congress has done nothing to check his power. Democrats could, and we might be better off as a republic if they take the House in 2018.” Again, if only we could get this kind of honesty from sitting GOP elected officials, there might be progress.
40. Did you know that it is “National Character Counts Week”? Der Sturmtrumper said so himself. And this is why it is so, so hard to write satire these days.
41. Looks like der Sturmtrumper’s latest attempt to ban Muslims from entering the US has met the same fate as all the previous ones, being blocked by a federal judge who has actually read the Constitution. Not that I expect this will be the end of it. You can’t fix stupid, only block it.