Something To Think About

I have spent the last three years warning that Donald Trump was a wanna-be king, that he would turn the presidency into a dictatorship, given half a chance.  It seems that now, three years into his reign, others are seeing it, too.  Max Boot’s column in The Washington Post last Saturday sums it up well.

This is how democracy dies — in full view of a public that couldn’t care less

By Max Boot, Columnist

Feb. 15, 2020 at 7:00 a.m. EST

Max-Boot

The French philosopher Montesquieu wrote in 1748: “The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.” We are seeing his warning vindicated. President Trump is increasingly acting as a tyrannical (and erratic) prince. And yet much of the public is so inured to his misconduct that his latest assaults on the rule of law are met with a collective shrug. Public passivity is Trump’s secret weapon as he pursues his authoritarian agenda. “I have the right to do whatever I want,” he says, and the lack of pushback seems to confirm it.

So much bad has happened since Trump was unjustly acquitted by the Senate of two articles of impeachment on Feb. 5 that it’s hard to keep it all straight.

Trump fired Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman for complying with a congressional subpoena and providing truthful testimony about Trump’s attempts to extort Ukraine into aiding him politically. Also ousted was Vindman’s brother, who did not testify. This sends a mob-like message: If you turn stool pigeon, your family gets it, too.

Trump’s ongoing quest for retribution has also claimed Jessie K. Liu, who was abruptly removed as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and replaced by a close aide to Attorney General William P. Barr after prosecuting Trump loyalists, including Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. Now Liu’s nomination to a senior Treasury Department position has been withdrawn. Next on the chopping block may be Elaine McCusker, the Pentagon official who tried to tell the Office of Management and Budget that Trump had no right to withhold aid to Ukraine. The New York Post reported that her nomination to be Pentagon comptroller will be withdrawn. (McCusker denies the report.)

While punishing those who dared to tell the truth, Trump is protecting those who assist his coverup. He inveighed against the request of federal prosecutors, following normal sentencing guidelines, to give Stone a seven- to nine-year prison sentence for witness tampering and lying to Congress. Trump also attacked the judge overseeing Stone’s case and the forewoman of the jury that convicted him. The Justice Department then asked for a reduced sentence. Four prosecutors resigned from the case in protest, and one quit the Justice Department.

Even Barr was driven to denounce Trump’s public interference in the legal system, saying that the president’s tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.” In response, Trump asserted that he has the “legal right” to determine who gets prosecuted — technically true but hardly in keeping with American tradition.

Barr’s protests ring hollow given how eager he has been to subvert his own department on Trump’s behalf — for example, by mischaracterizing the findings of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Barr has appointed one prosecutor to review Flynn’s conviction and another to investigate the FBI and CIA personnel who uncovered the Russian plot to elect Trump in 2016. The New York Times reports that the latter prosecutor, John H. Durham, has raised alarm in the intelligence community by appearing to pursue a theory, popular among right-wing conspiracy mongers, “that the C.I.A., under its former director John O. Brennan, had a preconceived notion about Russia or was trying to get to a particular result.”

Anxiety about attempts to politicize justice will only grow because of a Post report that Trump was furious that the Justice Department did not file charges against former FBI director James B. Comey and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe — even though there is no evidence that either of these men broke any laws. After learning that his enemies were not being indicted, The Post reports, “Trump has become more insistent that Durham finish his work soon,” because he “wants to be able to use whatever Durham finds as a cudgel in his reelection campaign.”

As Justice Department veteran David Laufman writes, “We are now truly at a break-glass-in-case-of-fire moment for the Justice Dept.” But does anyone give a damn? Democratic lawmakers are, to be sure, perturbed, but it’s easy (if unfair) to write off their outrage as mere partisanship. Republican members of Congress, as usual, either have nothing to say or offer ineffectual expressions of “concern.”

And the public? I don’t see massive marches in the streets. I don’t see people flooding their members of Congress with calls and emails. I don’t see the outrage that is warranted — and necessary. I see passivity, resignation and acquiescence from a distracted electorate that has come to accept Trump’s aberrant behavior as the norm.

A recent Gallup poll found that Trump’s approval rating among Republicans — the supposed law-and-order party — is at a record-high 94 percent. His support in the country as a whole is only 43.4 percent in the FiveThirtyEight average, but he is still well positioned to win reelection, because most people seem to care a lot more about the strength of the stock market than about the strength of our democracy. This is how democracies die — not in darkness but in full view of a public that couldn’t care less.

*Note to readers:  Since this article was published three days ago, Trumps approval rating according to the FiveThirtyEight average has risen from 43.4% to 43.9%.

29 thoughts on “Something To Think About

  1. So discouraging!! And today I just felt sick as I read how he pardoned some other guy who was involved with political corruption and serving time and another man, who had been involved in one of the biggest gambling corruption scandals ever. I don’t remember the name of the guys, but that’s not what matters, its the fact how he is is just throwing his power around. OH yeah, the guy in the political corruption thing had been a contestant on his Apprentice show. What a surprise!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That would be Blagojevich … and many others … he had his pardon pen filled and ready for big game today. He pardoned a number of people who did the same things, committed the same crimes that he has committed through the years, but they didn’t have big daddy to buy their way out of trouble like Trump did. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Last week, Trump tweeted of himself as a king … once the Senate acquitted him, even though he is obviously guilty of impeachable offenses as well as crimes against the U.S., he was given carte blanche to do whatever he wishes. And that is what he is doing. Firing people who don’t lick his boots, pardoning people who may prove useful to him, and making threats against any who don’t agree with him, who don’t fall into line. BUT … what is even more concerning is that his approval rating rose in a matter of HOURS from 43.9% to 44.6% … more than a half a percentage point, and now he is at the highest he’s been during his entire term! WHY??? Can the people of this nation really be so damn stupid???

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        • And that, my friend, is the connection I’ve been seeing ever since Trump took office. I think much of this nation are in the same spirit of complacency that the German people were in the 1930s. History is cyclic, and this nation has never really been put to the test, but … I think our time is coming. Sigh.

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    • I agree … I wish the DNC was sooner, but it will be mid-July before the democrats nominate a single candidate, and meanwhile I suppose they will continue this petty crap that is costing us credibility. Yes, my friend, time is running out … the hourglass is … frighteningly low.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jill, this is dead on accurate. We need to question his followers and legislative sycophants putting the onus on them. Please help convince me why I should not believe the incumbent is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime? The answer to the inevitable comment that we just don’t like Trump is simply “I truly want to believe what the president says, but he does not give me enough reason to do so.” If they say he is just rough around the edges, the response is “no, he is far more than that – he is corrupt and deceitful.” Deceased Senator John McCain wrote Trump’s words in Helsinki were traiterous. I agree. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tried that approach this evening on a Facebook discussion and got slammed from 20 different directions. I was called an “ignorant bitch”, told I was “too stupid to even understand that Trump is the best president this country has ever had”. I tried logic, I tried reason, and finally, I dropped out of the conversation, for it was obvious that these people are not willing to listen, do not want civil discourse, but are simply determined that they are right and the whole rest of the world is wrong. I should have been forewarned by the picture of two young ladies in short-shorts and holding high-powered rifles. How do we talk to such people? How do we ask them the important questions and get a serious answer? I’m at a loss here. I know you are right, but I don’t seem to be able to get through …

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      • Jill, this may be no consolation, but the fact they named called you speaks volumes. It means their arguments are poor. You may find my next post interesting and on the this point. A fake news purveyor said he is not interested in the truth, his focus is getting Donald Trump reelected. That says it all.

        By the way, Trump pardoning men who were convicted of fraud, corruption and lying also speaks volumes. This reveals the concept a narcissist uses of projection. See, I am pardoning them, so these actions must be OK. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

          • I can certainly understand why they would beg him not to pardon Blagojevich … but, not surprising that Trump didn’t listen. Who knows … perhaps he wants him for a cabinet position! Did you hear the latest? He’s going to make Grenell, the VERY controversial ambassador to Germany (he tried to tell Merkel how to do her job the first week he was there!) acting Director of National Intelligence! No qualifications … sheesh!

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        • Yeah, I just laughed it off … I’ve been called worse before … and I didn’t waste any more of my time, for I figured out on which side of the argument the ignorance actually was. Yes, that does say it all … but then, we shouldn’t be surprised, for the words ‘truth’ and ‘Donald Trump’ cannot really be uttered in the same sentence, can they?

          His pardons were unconscionable! Rod Blagojevich is as corrupt as they come! But then, so is Roger Stone, and look how hard Trump is fighting for him. What I don’t understand is why Trump is demanding he get a new trial, etc., for Trump will just pardon him anyway. We are in the hands of a madman and his sycophants. Frightening.

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  3. From 538: Trump Is The Most Unpopular President Since Ford To Run For Reelection

    That puts Trump in an unenviable but ambiguous position for reelection. Since Dwight D. Eisenhower, presidents with a FiveThirtyEight average approval rating2 of 48.4 percent or higher on Election Day all won their reelection campaigns, and presidents with a FiveThirtyEight average approval rating of 43.6 percent or lower all lost. If, in 10 months, Trump’s approval rating is still in the same range it has occupied for the past two years (roughly, between 39 percent and 43 percent), he would obviously fit into the latter group. And that would not bode well for his chances of being reelected; he’d have to hope for a Harry S. Truman-caliber upset.

    Furthermore, voter turnout has been consistently high (at or near 2008 levels) since Trump took office as evidenced by the 2018 midterms, last year’s surprising Democratic wins in Virginia and Kentucky, and the recent New Hampshire primary.

    Let’s not throw-in-the-towel prematurely, shall we?

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh, I haven’t thrown in the towel … not at all! However, I can’t help but feel that the democratic candidates are eating their own and not winning any brownie points for it. And then … there is Bloomberg, all set to buy himself an election! Plus, tonight I see that Trump’s approval rating on FiveThirtyEight has jumped from 43.9% earlier this evening to 44.6% as of this writing, 2:40 a.m. I have to ask … WTF is wrong with these people??? He pardons the worst of the worst, calls himself ‘king’, undermines the Constitution and the rule of law, and … his approval rating hits an all-time high??? Something is screwy here! But no, Robert, I am not throwing in the towel until sometime in the wee hours of November 4th! I’m a fighter, or a ‘scrapper’ as my dad used to call me. Stubborn as an old mule, I am.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cognitive dissonance is a powerful force to overcome. In his followers’ minds, Trump cannot be corrupt and deceitful because what does that make them who voted and still support him? The economy has softened some – US GDP went from 2.3% in 2017, to 2.9% due to the tax cut in 2018, and declined to 2.1% in 2019. The fall off will continue and will be accelerated by the lack of trading due to the coronovirus and remaining tariffs. The stock market has not realized this softening yet due to the low interest rates. I use these economic number as the comments that this is the best economy ever are simply not true, nor does Trump advertise that we are 127 concecutive months strong in growth, but he has only been president for 37 months. The tax cut which was supposed to generate 4% growth and pay for itself, borrowed $1.5 trillion from our future to make a pretty good economy a little better for a little while.

        Liked by 1 person

        • True. I have long said that I believe the reason some continue to support him is because to do otherwise would be to admit they made a mistake in voting for him, and some people find it very hard to say, “I was wrong.” When the market begins to decline, Trump will just bully Jerome Powell into lowering interest rates … again. Which, of course, is not the right answer. And now he’s proposing yet another tax cut that will also do little short-term benefit and major long-term harm. If the national debt is not addressed soon, we are in trouble.

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      • Your point about the Democrats is well-taken.

        Even at 45%, Trump’s highest approval rating is far below the highs reached by all presidents who won reelection since Harry Truman in 1948. In fact, Trump has never reached 50% – a rather astonishing figure. I just checked Nate Silver’s 538 blog, and its rolling average of polls currently puts Trump’s approval rating at 44.3%

        Here are two other contrasting items of information:

        1) From: Ahead of 2020 election, a ‘Blue Wave’ is rising in the cities, polling analysis shows

        NEW YORK — As Republican President Donald Trump seeks a second term in November, Americans’ interest in voting is growing faster in large cities dominated by Democrats than in conservative rural areas, according to an analysis of Reuters/Ipsos national opinion polls.
        If the trend lasts until Election Day on Nov. 3, it would be a reversal from the 2016 election when rural turnout outpaced voting in urban areas, helping Trump narrowly win the White House.
        The finding, based on responses from more than 88,000 U.S. adults who took the online poll from August to December 2015 or from August to December 2019, suggests that the “Blue Wave,” a swell of anti-Trump activism that followed his entry into the White House in 2017, is still rolling across the country’s largest population centers.
        Even as Trump commands rock-solid support among Republicans, voters’ interest in going to the polls appears to be growing faster among those who disapprove of Trump than among those who approve of him, according to experts who reviewed the data.
        The advantage in urban political engagement extends deep into the most competitive battleground states that Trump won by razor-thin margins four years ago, the data shows.
        In large urban areas of the upper Midwest, a region that includes swing states Michigan and Wisconsin, for example, the number of people who said they were “certain” to vote in the upcoming presidential election rose by 10 percentage points to 67% compared with survey responses from 2015.

        2) In the red-state of Kentucky, Secretary of State Michael Adams announced Tuesday that 3,462,152 people are registered to vote as of Jan. 31. Adams said Democrats represent 48 percent of that total, with 1,678,538 registered voters, while Republicans represent 43 percent, with 1,477,985 registered voters. Around 9% of voters are listed under other affiliations. This voter registration figure is a record high for the state.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, and if you watched the debate tonight, it was more of the same. Sigh. You’re right, that he is the only president in modern times to never even hit a 50% approval rating, but I just don’t see how even 44% can approve of him! I thought … have thought several times, actually, that people would finally be so disgusted with him that his approval rating would drop back into the 30% range, as it has a time or two … but instead it goes up! I have shaken my head so much that there are things rattling around in there now! I rely mostly on the same poll, the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, which is still at 44.3% tonight, however RealClearPolitics aggregate has him all the way up to 46%. Still under 50% but climbing.

          I’m certainly pleased by both of those pieces of information, for one of our biggest hurdles is voter apathy, or those who claim they are “making a statement” by not voting. I do hope Kentucky throws out Mitch McConnell this time! That man has overstayed his welcome! Thanks for sharing those … gives me a bit more hope!

          Liked by 2 people

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