ASSAULT! … On Freedom of the Press

Donald Trump on Tuesday said he told White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders “not to bother” with press briefings anymore.

“The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the ‘podium’ much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press. I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!”

Olivier Knox, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, decried the growing infrequency of press briefings in a statement Tuesday, warning that the trend could set a dangerous precedent …

“While other avenues exist to obtain information, the robust, public back-and-forth we’ve come to expect in the James A. Brady briefing room helps highlight that no one in a healthy republic is above being questioned.”

This headline from The Washington Post seems fairly accurate …

The White House has transitioned from daily press briefings to monthly press beratings

Here’s what happens, folks, when an autocrat moves in and tries to assume power.  Little things, like repeatedly calling the free press the “enemy of the people”.  Little things like pulling a reporter’s press credentials because he asked tough questions.  Little things like calling every legitimate news story “fake news”.  Pretty soon, it seems commonplace and before long nobody thinks much about it.  Oh, those daily press briefings only happen on rare occasions now?  Hmmm … hadn’t noticed.

The first step on the path to authoritarianism is to make sure the press never has the whole story to tell the people.  Make it hard for them to get information, maybe even toss out a few scraps of false information.  Close the blinds and paint over the windows … no need for transparency … nothing to see here, folks.

The New York Times, which is not, by the way, the “failing” New York Times, as Trump has claimed, published a list:  The 551 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List  

Let us take a look at just the things he has tweeted about the mainstream media in general (just skim the list, for it is mostly repetitive, but I wanted you to see the volume of his denigration)

 “Fake News Media”“Fake News Media!”“Fake News”“Fake News Media”“Fake News”“FAKE”“Fake News”“tries so hard to paint the opposite picture”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Never in the history of our Country has the “press” been more dishonest than it is today”“Stories that should be good, are bad”“Stories that should be bad, are horrible”“bad!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“has it purposely wrong”“Please report news correctly”“Fake News”“Fake News Media”“totally out of its mind”“truly the Enemy of the People!”“Fake News Media”“FAKE NEWS”“THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”“Fake News”“disgusting Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake Media”“FAKE NEWS”“They never like to ask me for a quote b/c it would kill their story”“Fake News Media”“Fake News”“Fake News”“FAKE NEWS”“the Enemy of the People!”“Fake News”“FAKE NEWS MEDIA, crazy”“always seeking to make us look as bad as possible”“Very dishonest!”“Fake News!”“Nasty”“Hostile”“FAKE NEWS!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Disgraceful!”“Fake News”“keep purposely and inaccurately reporting that I said the “Media is the Enemy of the People.””“Fake News”“Enemy of the People”“false information not good!”“Fake News”“Enemy of the People”“dishonest reporters”“Fake News”“Fake News, Fake & Dishonest reporting”“inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news”“Fake News Media”“the true Enemy of the People”“Fake News, Fake & Dishonest reporting”“purposely false and inaccurate reporting”“Fake News”“so bad and hateful that it is beyond description”“Fake News”“FAKE NEWS!”“FAKE NEWS (of which there is plenty)!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“hates to discuss the real facts!”“Fake News”“going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do”“going CRAZY!”“constant and intense Fake News”“totally dishonest”“Truth doesn’t matter to them”“they only have their hatred & agenda”“This includes fake books, which come out about me all the time, always anonymous sources, and are pure fiction”“Enemy of the People!”“Fake News”“They love to portray chaos in the White House when they know that chaos doesn’t exist”“Fake Reporting”“Fake News!”“fiction!”“Fake”“made up stories”“Fake News”“trying endlessly to make me look as bad and evil as possible”“Fake News”“worked hard to get Tiger Woods to say something that he didn’t want to say”“phony story”“Fake News Media!”“Fake News, of which there is soooo much”“Fake News”“the Enemy of the People”“So bad for America!”“Fake News”“don’t watch at all”“THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY”“very bad for our Great Country”“much of what it says is FAKE NEWS, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people”“Fake News!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE”“purposely cause great division & distrust”“very dangerous & sick!”“Fake News”“refuses to report the lies and corruption having to do with the Rigged Witch Hunt”“FAKE NEWS!”“FAKE NEWS”“the enemy of the people!”“Fake News Media”“going CRAZY!”“totally unhinged”“In 7 years, when I am no longer in office, their ratings will dry up and they will be gone!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Enemy of the People”“driven insane by their Trump Derangement Syndrome”“Very unpatriotic!”“anti-Trump haters”“dying”“they try to distract and cover it up”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Corrupt”“Fake News”“always anonymous sources”“Wrong”“Fake News, Hypocrites!”“Fake News”“going Crazy!, They make up stories without any backup, sources or proof”“total fiction”“Fake News”“wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia”“the real enemy of the people”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“going Crazy!”“Fake News”“it is FAKE NEWS!”“the enemy of the people”“Fake News”“doesn’t want to report the truth”“Fake News”“constantly likes to pore over my tweets looking for a mistake”“Fake News is working overtime!”“Fake Media”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Total corruption”“Fake News”“the enemy of the people”“Fake News”“they put their own spin on it – truth doesn’t matter to them!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“only shows the bad photos”“Fake News”“once again, WRONG!”“Fake News!”“Fake News”“Our Country’s biggest enemy”“Fake News”“easily promulgated by fools!”“Fake News”“so unfair, and vicious”“Fake”“Fake News is really bad!”“Fake News”“desperate to distract from the economy and record setting economic numbers”“Fake News”“corrupt”“working overtime not to mention the infiltration of people, Spies (Informants), into my campaign!”“Corrupt”“Fake”“run the most highly sophisticated & dishonest Disinformation Campaign in the history of politics”“No matter how well WE do, they find fault”“corrupt”“Fake News”“Fake News”“got it purposely wrong, as usual!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“got it purposely wrong, as usual!”“Fake News”“made up, unsourced stories”“Fake News”“Much of the Media may be corrupt”“Fake News”“Fake News”“a disgrace!”“The Fake News is working overtime”“Fake”“Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?”“FAKE NEWS”“Fake News”“going crazy making up false stories and using only unnamed sources (who don’t exist)”“totally unhinged”“the great success of this Administration is making them do and say things that even they can’t believe they are saying”“Truly bad people!”“Fake News”“going ‘bonkers!’”“so silent”“Fake & Disgusting News to create ill will!”“93% bad stories”“Fake News Media”“phony an dishonest press”“Fake News”“Fools”“Fake News Media”“Much of the media is a Scam!”“Fake News Media”“phony stories”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“dishonest and corrupt!”“Fake News”“among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with”“So much Fake News”“Never been more voluminous or more inaccurate”“Fake News Media”“crazed”“They are wrong!”“Fake News”“beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired”“Fake News Media”“they are lying”“Turn off the show – FAKE NEWS!”“being mocked all over the world”“They’ve gone CRAZY!”“Total Fake News!”“Fake News Media”“Fake News Media”“Fake News Media”“approval ratings are correctly at their lowest levels in history!”“untruthful”“Fake reporting”“FAKE NEWS”“very corrupt”“dishonest”“Fake News”“talks about anything negative or that can be turned into the negative”“contrived!”“So much Fake News is being reported”“They don’t even try to get it right, or correct it when they are wrong”“crazed that WE won the election!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“corrupt & biased”“losers”“lapdogs”“Fake News Mainstream Media”“screaming mental stability and intelligence”“Fake News”“Fake News”“DISHONEST”“CORRUPT”“Dishonesty & Bad Reporting”“Fake News”“very dishonest”“Fake News”“VERY dishonest”“unfair”“Fake News Media”“Phony and non-existent ‘sources’ are being used more often than ever”“Many stories & reports a pure fiction!”“Fake News”“loves to talk about my so-called low approval rating”“massive negative Trump coverage”“The Fake News”“refuses to talk about how Big and how Strong our BASE is”“They show Fake Polls just like they report Fake News”“only negative reporting”“Fake News”“Fake”“the Fake Mainstream Media will NEVER talk about our accomplishments in their end of year reviews”“Fake News Media”“Fake News Hate Shows”“Fake News”“working overtime to follow the lead of their friends, the defeated Dems”“Fake News Media”“untrue stories”“has become a joke!”“Fake News”“purposely false and defamatory stories”“Fake News Media”“They are out of control”“correct reporting means nothing to them”“Major lies written”“a stain on America!”“Fake News!”“Fake News”“FAKE NEWS!”“dishonest”“corrupt”“distorted in its political coverage of your favorite President (me)”“They are all bad”“FAKE NEWS”“their ratings are terrible, nobody cares!”“Fake News”“#FakeNews”“They are wrong”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Disgraceful!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“FABRICATE STORIES ABOUT ME”“FAKE NEWS”“Lost cred”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“going crazy”“Fake”“Fake News”“Fiction writers!”“Fake News”“has become so partisan, distorted and fake”“licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked”“going all out in order to demean and denigrate!”“Such hatred!”“Fake News”“story is totally made up”“dishonest”“Fake News”“one-sided coverage”“Fake News Networks”“just made up”“FAKE!”“Fake”“Fake News”“No matter what I do or say, they will not write or speak truth”“Fake News”“out of control!”“Fake News”“Fake News”“working overtime in Puerto Rico doing their best to take the spirit away from our soldiers and first R’s”“Shame!”“Fake News”“#FakeNews!”“Because of #FakeNews my people are not getting the credit they deserve”“FAKE NEWS”“anti-Trump”“Collusion?”“Fake News”“totally biased”“dishonest”“Fake News”“they know nothing about me & have zero access”“#FAKE NEWS!”“false reporting”“dying magazines”“Fake News”“Fake News”“a platform to hate groups”“turns a blind eye to the gang violence on our streets!”“Fake News”“very dishonest, Fake News”“worst”“dishonest”“Fake News reporting”“Fake News”“dishonest”“Fake News”“totally misrepresent what I say about hate, bigotry etc. Shame!”“Fake News”“truly bad people!”“Fake News Suppression Polls!”“Fake News”“refuses to report the success of the first 6 months”“phony”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“TOTALLY UNTRUE”“Fake News”“Fake News!”“Fake News”“Purposely phony reporting.”“Fake News”“Fake News”“LEAKS”“FAKE NEWS”“Fake News”“sick”“Fake News”“becoming more and more dishonest”“Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!”“Fake”“phony”“unnamed sources”“highly slanted”“fraudulent reporting”“#Fake”“DISTORTING DEMOCRACY in our country!”“when you hear the words “sources say” from the Fake Media, often times those sources are made up and do not exist”“Fake News”“Fake News”“Fake News”“will never cover me accurately but who cares!”“dishonest”“FAKE”“FRAUDULENT”“working hard to convince Republicans and others I should not use social media”“#FakeNews”“Fake News”“likes to say that I am not totally engaged in healthcare”“Wrong”“Fake News”“Fake”“hates when I use what has turned out to be my very powerful Social Media”“made up a phony collusion with the Russians story”“has never been so wrong or so dirty”“Purposely incorrect stories”“phony sources”“agenda of hate”“Sad!”“at an all time high”“Where is their apology to me for all of the incorrect stories???”“#FakeNews”“report the great economic news since Election Day”“FAKE”“working so hard trying to get me not to use Social Media”“They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out”“Fake”“Fake”“works hard at disparaging & demeaning my use of social media because they don’t want America to hear the real story!”“fabricated lies”“#FakeNews”“fake”“fake”“#FakeNews”“Fake”“Fake”“Fake”“fake”“fake”“#FakeNews!”“Fake”“FAKE”“Fake”“did everything in its power to make the Republican Healthcare victory look as bad as possible”“Fake”“rarely reports Ocare is on its last legs”“Fake”“officially out of control”“will do or say anything in order to get attention”“FAKE”“refuses to state our long list of achievements”“fake”“FAKE”“almost always negative”“FAKE”“BAD!”“Fake Media (not Real Media)”“has gotten even worse since the election”“Every story is badly slanted”“Fake News”“Fake News”“now pushing the phony Russia story”“vicious”“inaccurate”“Fake News”“FAKE NEWS”“rude”“FAKE NEWS”“Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media”“FAKE NEWS”“knowingly doesn’t tell the truth”“A great danger to our country”“Sad!”“FAKE NEWS”“fake news”“Fake”“FAKE NEWS”“the enemy of the American People!”“FAKE”“Dishonest”“FAKE NEWS”“makes up stories and ‘sources,’”“fading fast!”“fake news”“going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred”“FAKE NEWS, Very dishonest!”“FAKE NEWS”“lies!”“lied”“Very dishonest”“dishonest”“Dishonest”“fake!”“Dishonest”“Terrible!”“dishonest”“lies”“dishonest”“More dishonest than anyone knows”“distorted and inaccurate”“Serious bias – big problem!”“crooked”“typically false”“Very unfair!”“Very dishonest”“We are winning and the press is refusing to report it”“Don’t let them fool you”“in the tank for Clinton”“refuses to talk about the three new national polls that have me in first place”“has deceived the public by putting women front and center with made-up stories and lies”“dishonest”“distorted”“rigging election!”“rigging election!”“pushing false and unsubstantiated charges, and outright lies”“dishonest”“So dishonest!”“want me out of the race so badly”“totally one-sided “spin””“VERY dishonest”“just made up lies!”“never covered Hillary’s massive “hacking” or coughing attack”“It is being reported by virtually everyone, and is a fact, that the media pile on against me is the worst in American political history!”“dishonest”“corrupt”“dishonest”“My rallies are not covered properly”“never discuss the real message”“disgusting”“corrupt”“dishonest”“desperate to distract from Clinton’s anti-2A stance”“totally distort so many things on purpose”“Very dishonest!”“very dishonest”“totally biased”“distorted”“one-sided”“biased”“dishonest”“dishonest”“coverage this morning of the very average Clinton speech and Convention is a joke”“phony”“dishonest”“will find a good spinnnn!”“biased”“spending more time doing a forensic analysis of Melania’s speech than the FBI spent on Hillary’s emails”“so dishonest”“If I make a statement, they twist it and turn it to make it sound bad or foolish”“They think the public is stupid!”“Dishonest”“trying their absolute best to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a Sheriff’s Star, or plain star!”“so totally biased”“dishonesty”“one big lie!”“totally biased”“biased”“phony”“on a new phony kick about my management style”“dishonest”“dishonest”“disgusting”“really on a witch-hunt against me”“False reporting, and plenty of it”“pushing the false narrative that I want to raise taxes”“unfair”“has not covered my long-shot great finish in Iowa fairly”“able to so incorrectly define a word for the public”“sad!”“dishonest reporters!”“dishonest”“always tough when they falsify”“won’t report!”“dishonest”“wants to surrender constitutional rights”“they only want negatives”“will not report the highly respected new national poll that just came out”“how will the media put a negative spin on this one?”“troublemakers”“despite the[ir] best efforts, the people are speaking loudly and clearly”“totally dishonest”“So sad!”“lies”

WHEW!  And that doesn’t include the filth he has spewed about virtually every journalist and media outlet who has ever criticized him.  Look back throughout history … has any president of the United States ever spoken so?  I think not.  Thus far he has stopped short of actually having journalists jailed, as other autocrats such as Putin and Erdoğan have done, but what he is doing is only one step short of that.  Never before in any democratic nation has a leader been so irresponsible in his dealing with the press.  And now, he has told the Press Secretary to ‘not bother’ communicating with the press, not bother providing information that enables We The People to know what our government is doing.

Remember last July, when Trump spoke to the VFW annual convention in Kansas City, where he said …

“Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. … What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

Believe, in other words, only what he tells you to believe.  Believe only what the man who lies virtually every time he opens his mouth, tells you to believe.  Lies are truth, truth is ‘fake’.

Without a free press, folks, our boat is sunk.  Without a free press, we will live under a dictatorship.  Donald Trump was given the keys to the White House without the majority approval.  He has occupied that house illegitimately for two years now, and in that two years he has made a mockery of many of our institutions, many of our freedoms and protections, and the very foundation of our government, the document he took an oath, swearing to “preserve, protect and defend”.

No more daily press briefings.  Trump will tweet you what you need to know.  Nope, nothing to see here, folks …

Why Didn’t I Think Of That???

Nicholas Kristof’s column yesterday in the New York Times was his usual excellent analysis of the five craziest things about the government shutdown and Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for his ego wall.  But what iced the cake for me was the brilliant idea he posed at the conclusion of his piece.  And so, I share his column with you … let me know what you think of his idea!


Trump’s Five Craziest Arguments About the Shutdown

Oh, and about that wall. Here’s a financing plan that’s a win-win.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof
Opinion Columnist

I’d like to apologize to all the “banana republics” I’ve offended over the decades with snarky references to their dysfunction. This is karma: I now live in a nation where a petulant president has shut down much of the most powerful government in the world — so the White House isn’t even paying its water bills.

The government has shut down before, under presidents of both parties. But this shutdown is particularly childish and unnecessary; to revise Churchill, rarely have so many suffered so much at the hands of so few.

It’s difficult to pick the craziest of the arguments that President Trump is making about the shutdown — there’s a vast buffet of imbecility to choose from — but here’s my good-faith effort.

1. This is a crisis! Terrorists are crossing the border! Rapists!

This is more like a lull than a crisis. The number of people apprehended at the border remains near a 45-year low. From 1972 on, there were more apprehensions every single year than there were in 2017.

As for terrorists, experts say that there isn’t a single known case of a terrorist sneaking into the United States along unfenced areas of the southern border. Ever.

2. Only a wall can do the job. A big beautiful wall that stops people and drugs.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was wrong to describe a wall as “an immorality,” for we need border security, and a wall in some places can be effective. But a great majority of the undocumented immigrants in the country didn’t arrive by sneaking across the border, but rather came legally, often at airports, and overstayed their visas. The most beautiful of walls wouldn’t stop them.

Likewise, drug smuggling is a real problem, but narcotics have mostly been smuggled in on trucks, cars and airplanes at official ports of entry, or through tunnels under the border, or through the postal system — not by individuals crossing remote parts of the border.

“The Daily Show” dug up a 2004 college graduation speech in which Trump counseled perseverance of just the kind that makes walls, by themselves, not terribly effective: “Never, ever give up. … If there’s a concrete wall in front of you, go through it, go over it, go around it, but get to the other side of the wall.”

3. But this is a humanitarian issue!

Yes, it is. The most egregious humanitarian concern has been Trump’s brutal policy of separating children from parents at the border.

“Kids are still being separated,” Lee Gelernt of the A.C.L.U. told me. Mostly the government does this when it says that a parent has a criminal history, but the offenses sometimes were minor or unsubstantiated.

Meanwhile, the government shutdown causes other tragedies. For example, even in normal times 3,000 people a year die in the United States from food-borne illness, yet the Food and Drug Administration has now had to stop most routine food inspections, with inspectors sent home on furlough. The result may well be more people getting sick or dying from food poisoning.

4. The president doesn’t need Congress. After all, he’s the president!

Plenty of people would be a bit relieved if Trump took the dubious route of declaring a national emergency and trying to steal, er, divert money intended for disaster victims to pay for his wall. It might be a way out of our national stalemate, allowing the government to reopen.

But look, folks, when we welcome our president doing something possibly illegal, as he unjustly takes money from disaster victims, that just confirms that we have a crisis — not at the border but in Washington.

Trump’s wall isn’t about governing but about creating a political symbol and rallying his base. The problem is that it’s an expensive symbol.

By my calculations, the $5.7 billion could send 100,000 at-risk American kids to a high-quality preschool for a year AND provide Pell grants for 100,000 students to attend college for a full four years, with enough left over to ALSO provide a year’s comprehensive treatment to 115,000 Americans struggling with opioid addiction.

5. Anyway, Mexico will pay for the wall.

Trump repeatedly declared that Mexico would pay for the wall, and he still insists that Mexico will pay for it indirectly “many, many times over.” So I have a solution to the whole mess.

Since Mexico will pay for the wall eventually, the problem now is one of cash flow. Fortunately, we have financial instruments to deal with precisely this issue.

I propose that Trump pay the $5.7 billion himself, and then the U.S. will repay him (with a nice interest rate) as the Mexican payments for the wall pour in. The Federal Reserve can verify the Mexican income stream and forward the sums to Trump.

Since he’s so confident that the wall will pay for itself, he should be delighted with this option. Right, Mr. President?

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Now why didn’t I think of that???

Don Lemon Rides Again …

In my earlier post this morning, I made mention of Trump’s cabinet meeting yesterday morning in which he gave the cabinet an ‘alternative history’ lesson about the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia’s involvement in Afghanistan, etc., and where he took the opportunity to praise … himself … and to criticize everyone else. As the New York Times headline read:

Trump’s Freewheeling and Fact-Free Cabinet Meeting

Pretty much, yep.  I thought you might enjoy Don Lemon’s take on it, as well as a few clips from the circus.  It’s good for a few chuckles anyway.

Stay tuned, for Filosofa will return …

Fear of Immigrants?

I am asked, “Why does Donald Trump hate and fear immigrants so much?”  I have no readily available answer, but it sets the wheels turning in my mind … why does he?  We know what he says, but we also know that is only hateful rhetoric designed to instill fear in his 30% – 40% base who must be kept in fear so that they will continue to cling to him, to support him.  He says that those trying to immigrate to the U.S. are animals, not people.  He tells his base that the migrants are murderers, criminals, and rapists and that we are in danger from them.  But he knows better, for otherwise why would he feel safe at Mar-a-Lago or at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, both of which have undocumented immigrants on staff?

Why, then, does he fear them?  The answer is that he doesn’t fear the immigrants … he fears losing his base if they ever figure out the whopping lies he has told them.  His rhetoric about migrants is a tool, nothing more. Let us meet a few of the migrants that attempted to come to this country in the latest caravan … the caravan that Trump has wasted so much of our money sending troops to “defend us against”.

Meet Jennifer and her daughter Lucia.  They fled Honduras because life there was very hard and had become increasingly difficult because of the persistent violence.Jennifer-Lucia.jpg

And here’s Junior and his mother Maria.  Junior’s father was killed by gangs in Honduras.Junior-Maria.jpg

And here is 17-year-old Maeli. She joined the caravan with her young son because she feared for their safety in Honduras. They’ve been largely met with kindness on the long journey north, but things have been tense in Tijuana. She and other migrants had been staying in a makeshift camp on the beach when a crowd of local residents threw stones at them.Maeli-son

And this is Juan Carlos, 16 years of age.  The gang members that killed his two uncles in Honduras were pressuring him to either join their gang, else be killed himself.Juan-Carlos.jpg

Now here we have Nelson.  Nelson is legally allowed to cross the border, and has three children living in Pennsylvania.  So why is Nelson part of the migrant caravan?  He said he wanted to experience the solidarity of the caravan, so he was traveling with them. He will wait until the rest are able to cross, he said, before he does.Nelson

So far, I haven’t seen anybody that looks like they are here to murder and rape us, have you?  As I have said before, surely there are some unsavory characters who traveled with the caravan, but … people, look around the U.S.  You want to see unsavory characters?  Look at the “Proud Boys”, look at the followers of Richard Spencer … those who have swastikas tattooed on their bodies.  Look at the white-hood-wearing cowards of the KKK who make their mischief anonymously, then run.  Look, for that matter, at the likes of former Judge Roy Moore of Alabama.  I could go on all day naming people in this country, citizens who were born right here, that I wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley.

Keith-Luke-neo-Nazi

Keith Luke, convicted rapist/murderer who “just wanted to kill non-whites”

So back to the original question.  There is nothing to fear from these people and Donald Trump knows it because he has “illegal” immigrants working for him in his estates.  Donald Trump is a racist, a bigot, and a white supremacist.  Remember Charlottesville?  He claimed the white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups who held that rally were ‘very fine people’.  When he came under fire even from his own party for those remarks, he walked them back for one day, and then repeated them.  But is he really a racist, or does it just suit his purpose to be one?

Donald Trump has disparaged Hispanics, African-Americans, Middle-Easterners, Asians … but the only time I have heard him speak of a white person in the same terms was if  they were democrats or journalists or women or handicapped or Jewish.  He puts down women every chance he gets.  He denigrates and mocks the disabled.  Remember his mockery of reporter Serge Kovaleski?  It truly reminded me of something a high school freshman might do.  Trump doesn’t just hate immigrants … Trump hates everybody.  If you can do something for him … a vote, campaign donations … then he will pretend to like you.  But the truth is that Trump thinks anyone who is not just like him is second-rate, and thankfully there are few who are ‘just like him’.  In order to satisfy his own ego, he must de-humanize the rest of us in one way or another.  In order to satisfy his dwindling base, he must keep up the lies that immigrants are dangerous, women and African-Americans are stupid, and so on.

I suspect that Donald Trump doesn’t fear immigrants at all, for they provide him with a much-needed platform to keep his base cowering and looking to him for protection.


Photos courtesy of the New York Times.  For more, please see the original article

Clueless

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s column from yesterday is astute, to-the-point, and well worth the few minutes it takes to read it.  He hits the nail on the head regarding Trump’s trade ‘negotiations’ with China.

paul-krugman-thumbLarge.png


The Art of the Imaginary Deal

On trade, Trump is a rebel without a clue

Are we going to have a full-blown trade war with China, and maybe the rest of the world? Nobody knows — because it all depends on the whims of one man. And Tariff Man is ignorant, volatile and delusional.

Why do I say that it’s all about one man? After all, after the 2016 U.S. election and the Brexit vote in Britain, there was a lot of talk about a broad popular backlash against globalization. Over the past two years, however, it has become clear that this backlash was both smaller and shallower than advertised.

Where, after all, is the major constituency supporting Donald Trump’s tariffs and threats to exit international agreements? Big business hates the prospect of a trade war, and stocks plunge whenever that prospect becomes more likely. Labor hasn’t rallied behind Trumpist protectionism either.

Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans believing that foreign trade is good for the economy is near a record high. Even those who criticize trade seem to be motivated by loyalty to Trump, not by deep policy convictions: During the 2016 campaign self-identified Republicans swung wildly from the view that trade agreements are good to the view that they’re bad, then swung back again once Trump seemed to be negotiating agreements of his own. (We have always been in a trade war with Eastasia.)

But if there’s no strong constituency for protectionism, why are we teetering on the brink of a trade war? Blame U.S. trade law.

Once upon a time, Congress used to write detailed tariff bills that were stuffed full of giveaways to special interests, with destructive effects on both the economy and American diplomacy. So in the 1930s F.D.R. established a new system in which the executive branch negotiates trade deals with other countries, and Congress simply votes these deals up or down. The U.S. system then became the template for global negotiations that culminated in the creation of the World Trade Organization.

The creators of the U.S. trade policy system realized, however, that it couldn’t be too rigid or it would shatter in times of stress; there had to be ways to relieve pressure when necessary. So trade law gives the executive the right to impose tariffs without new legislation under certain circumstances, mainly to protect national security, to retaliate against unfair foreign practices, or to give industries facing sudden surges in foreign competition time to adjust.

In other words, U.S. trade law gives the president a lot of discretionary power over trade, as part of a system that curbs the destructive influence of corrupt, irresponsible members of Congress. And that setup worked very well for more than 80 years.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t intended to handle the problem of a corrupt, irresponsible president. Trump is pretty much all alone in lusting for a trade war, but he has virtually dictatorial authority over trade.

What’s he doing with that power? He’s trying to negotiate deals. Unfortunately, he really, really doesn’t know what he’s doing. On trade, he’s a rebel without a clue.

Even as he declared himself Tariff Man, Trump revealed that he doesn’t understand how tariffs work. No, they aren’t taxes on foreigners, they’re taxes on our own consumers.

When trying to make deals, he seems to care only about whether he can claim a “win,” not about substance. He has been touting the “U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement” as a repudiation of NAFTA, when it’s actually just a fairly minor modification. (Nancy Pelosi calls it “the trade agreement formerly known as Prince.”)

Most important, his inability to do international diplomacy, which we’ve seen on many fronts, carries over to trade talks. Remember, he claimed to have “solved” the North Korean nuclear crisis, but Kim Jong-un is still expanding his ballistic missile capacity. Well, last weekend he claimed to have reached a major trade understanding with China; but as J.P. Morgan soon reported in a note to its clients, his claims “seem if not completely fabricated then grossly exaggerated.”

Markets plunged earlier this week as investors realized that they’d been had. As I said, business really doesn’t want a trade war.

Let’s be clear: China is not a good actor in the world economy. It engages in real misbehavior, especially with regard to intellectual property: The Chinese essentially rip off technology. So there is a case for toughening our stance on trade.

But that toughening should be undertaken in concert with other nations that also suffer from Chinese misbehavior, and it should have clear objectives. The last person you want to play hardball here is someone who doesn’t grasp the basics of trade policy, who directs his aggressiveness at everyone — tariffs on Canadian aluminum to protect our national security? Really? — and who can’t even give an honest account of what went down in a meeting.

Unfortunately, that’s the person who’s now in charge, and it’s hard to see how he can be restrained. So the future of world trade, with all it implies for the world economy, now hinges largely on Donald Trump’s mental processes. That is not a comforting thought.Text dividers

What Happens If …

There are a number of opinion writers I greatly respect, and Charles M. Blow is in the top ten.  Mr. Blow writes for the New York Times and his work is most always level-headed and thoughtful.  Amid the many calls for impeachment to remove Trump from office, cooler heads must sometimes prevail.  In Blow’s column from December 2nd he explains why removing Trump from office is not a likely scenario, but would be the beginning of a new nightmare.

What Happens If …

The possibilities ahead in the Russia investigation suggest we are not reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather entering one.

Charles BlowBy Charles M. Blow

I no longer think that anyone in America, including Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters, can afford to put off the consideration of the central question of this administration: What if Donald Trump or those closest to him were compromised by the Russians or colluded with them?

There have always been those of us on the left who viewed his presidency as compromised, asterisk-worthy if not wholly illegitimate, because of the Russian interference.

A crime had been committed by Russia and Trump cheered the crime and used the loot thereof to advance his candidacy. That is clear.

The Russians made repeated attempts to contact people in Trump’s orbit and in some cases were able to meet with members of the team, as evidenced by the Trump Tower meeting. That is clear.

Members of Trump’s team were extremely interested in and eager to accept any assistance that the Russians could provide. That is clear.

And since assuming office, Trump has openly attempted to obstruct justice and damage or impede the investigation into what the Russians did and whether anyone in his orbit was part of the crime. That too is clear.

But for the people who support and defend Trump, this has already been absorbed andabsolved. They may not like it, but they are willing to overlook it. Indeed, they are so attached to Trump that his fortunes and his fate have become synonymous with theirs. There is a spiritual linkage, a baleful bond, between the man and his minions.

But what happens if the evidence that the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, uncovers reveals a direct link between Trump and the Russians? How do Trump’s boosters respond?

Last week, when Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timeline and the extent of Mr. Trump’s involvement in negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow, the political earth shifted.

If Trump was lying to or misleading the American people about his efforts to do business in Russia while running for president and the Russians knew — and presumably had evidence — that he wasn’t being completely honest and forthcoming, then he was compromised.

While it is by no means clear that the Russians ever used any information that they may have had to blackmail or otherwise pressure Trump, Cohen’s plea makes clear that they had the material to do just that.

This brings ever more clarity to Trump’s curious inclination to go soft on Russia condemnation, to take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word over that of his own intelligence agencies, and to drag his feet in acknowledging that Russia attacked our election in 2016 and may continue to do so in the future.

How would Americans who support Trump now respond to evidence that Team Trump put their own personal and financial interests over the national interest? Would they break from their blind support and turn away from him and turn on him? How could they justify wearing the blinders for so long and countenancing so much? What language would they use to correct their complicity?

There is a precedent in the Nixon investigation. When the evidence of wrongdoing was clear and incontrovertible, people began to peel away, tails tucked and full of shame.

But that was a different time, one in which media wasn’t so fractured and partisan, before the advent of social media and our current dissociable mentalities.

Nixon had no propaganda arm. Trump has one. It’s called Fox News. There is little daylight between the network’s programming and the White House’s priorities. If Trump goes down, so too does Fox, in some measure. So the network has a vested interest in defending Trump until the bitter end, and that narrative-crafting could impede an otherwise natural and normal disaffection with Trump.

Furthermore, Trump does not strike me as a man amenable to contrition or one interested in the health and stability of the nation.

I expect Trump to admit nothing, even if faced with proof positive of his own misconduct. There is nothing in the record to convince me otherwise. He will call the truth a lie and vice versa.

I also don’t think that Trump would ever voluntarily leave office as Nixon did, even if he felt impeachment was imminent. I’m not even sure that he would willingly leave if he were impeached and the Senate moved to convict, a scenario that is hard to imagine at this point.

I don’t think any of this gets better, even as the evidence becomes clearer. I don’t believe that Trump’s supporters would reverse course in the same way that Nixon’s did. I don’t believe that the facts Mueller presents will be considered unassailable. I don’t believe Trump will go down without bringing the country down with him.

In short, I don’t believe we are reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather we are entering one. This will not get easier, but harder.

The country is about to enter the crucible. This test of our republic is without a true comparison. And we do not have a clear picture of how the test will resolve. But, I believe damage is certain.

A Shared Opinion …

There are a number of opinion writers who I read regularly, and Charles Blow of the New York Times is one.  His column on Sunday struck a chord, for much of what he says mirrors my own thoughts very closely, especially when he says, “I would love nothing more than to write about other things, worthy things, more intellectually stimulating things. But for more than two years, I have written almost exclusively about Donald Trump.”  I initially intended to only provide a few snippets from this column, but after I studied and pondered it a bit, I decided to share the entire column after all.  Give it a read … I think you’ll be able to relate to much of what he says …

You Have a Right to Weariness

The struggle for goodness and decency is an eternal struggle, not a seasonal one.

Charles BlowBy Charles M. Blow, Opinion Columnist

Do we have a right to weariness in an era of animus? More precisely, can we afford it, or is exhaustion a luxury reserved for those whose wealth, privilege and status insulate them from the losses the rest of us could suffer? Does patriotic defense of country require perpetual, obsessive vigilance, or is it permissible to retreat occasionally for one’s own mental and spiritual health?

These are questions I ask myself regularly, and ones that are frequently asked of me, if not in those exact words. People are trying to figure out the proper posture to take in a world riven by deceit and corruption, a world in which the leadership of the country represents an assault on decency.

This is a conundrum, I must confess.

I, as much as anyone else, feel trapped by our current predicament. I would love nothing more than to write about other things, worthy things, more intellectually stimulating things. But for more than two years, I have written almost exclusively about Donald Trump.

I feel compelled by what I view as history, fundamental and consequential, playing out right before me with nothing short of the life of the republic at stake. And yet, at a certain point, words begin to fail, or the obvious has already been stated. Once you have pointed out that Trump is a liar, you can then note only that he is telling more lies. The same goes for his racism, bullying, anti-intellectualism, corruption and grift.

At some point, it becomes clear that the abnormal, outrageous and unacceptable have become a constant, and even the rolling boil of righteous folk’s indignation reduces to a simmer.

People often ask me, “When will it end? What can we do to get him out of there?”

My answer always is, “I doubt it will end soon, and there’s very little anyone can do to change that.”

I hate to bear that message, but it is the only one I can deliver if I wish to be honest rather than popular.

As much as there was to celebrate last week, with liberals winning control of the House of Representatives, and doing so with such a diverse slate of candidates, it was also clear that Republican control of the Senate means that any hope of removing Trump via impeachment has shrunk to nearly nothing. Even if the House impeaches Trump, the Senate remains highly unlikely to remove him.

Democrats are even debating how far they can take oversight in the House without turning off people politically.

The only hope is that the Robert Mueller investigation may deliver something so damning that some Senate Republicans view it as unacceptable. But there is no evidence as of yet that anything would sway them.

Trump is taking steps to severely hamper Mueller’s efforts. Last week, he fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and installed Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general. The F.B.I. is currently investigating corruption at a company where Mr. Whitaker sat on the advisory board.

At this point, it may be more prudent to view what comes from the Mueller probe as fodder for the 2020 presidential campaign. It may not pave the way for an impeachment conviction by the Senate, but could well pave the way for an electoral “impeachment.”

It is very likely that we are stuck with Trump until the 2020 election, and even then the Democrats can take nothing for granted if they wish to defeat him.

That is the root of people’s distress. How can Republicans in Congress abide this behavior and use it for political positioning? How can so many of our neighbors condone open hostility to minorities, the press and the truth?

Or maybe the questions are for us. How could we not have registered fully just how hostile a substantial portion of America is to inclusion and equality? How could we not have registered the full depths of American racism and misogyny? How could we not remember that American progress has always been like a dance with a disagreeable partner, stumbling backward as well as moving forward?

I remember calling my mother when Trump was elected, and she was not nearly as distraught as I thought she’d be. Her stated reason: We’ve been through worse. She is an elderly black woman from the South. Her sense of history and heartbreak are long and fraught.

Recently, I’ve delved even more deeply into this line of thinking, reading about how black people positioned themselves during both Reconstruction and Jim Crow, when the political structures were largely arrayed against them.

I wanted to know how they survived and made progress against open hostility. The recurring themes are to never lose hope in the ultimate victory of righteousness; to focus your fire on the things you are most able to change; and to realize that change is neither quick nor permanent.

The struggle for goodness and decency is an eternal struggle, not a seasonal one.

Don’t beat yourself up if you need to tune out every now and then and take a mental health break. There is no shame in it. This is a forever fight. Once you have recharged, reapply your armor and rejoin the fight with even more vigor.

Voter Apathy — Part III

This is the third and final post in my series on voter apathy.  For this post, I share the words of another, Roxane Gay, in an OpEd piece she wrote for the New York Times.  The piece speaks for itself …

You’re Disillusioned. That’s Fine. Vote Anyway.

Very pragmatic advice for anyone thinking about not casting a ballot.

Roxane GayA young woman in Milwaukee recently asked me if I had any advice for disillusioned young voters. She said that in a representative democracy it was hard to want to vote for, in her words, “yet another 40,000-year-old white man” who didn’t look like her or have familiarity with her experiences.

Her question was genuine, and even though more women are running for Congress than in previous years and Stacey Abrams of Georgia has a chance to be the first African-American woman elected governor, I understood her overall frustration. For every beacon of progress there is a stark reminder that the status quo all too often prevails.

Young people are facing a lot of problems they had no hand in creating. Far too many of them are saddled with incredible amounts of student loan debt, working in a gig economy where little job security is scarce. If they have health insurance, it is likely inadequate. Homeownership can seem out of reach. Black voters are being disenfranchised at alarming rates. Reproductive freedom is precarious. Citizenship is precarious. Climate change threatens our planet on an alarming timeline. Things are grim and politicians of all persuasions are doing very little to assuage or address the very real concerns people have about this country and their place in it.

I could have offered a warm, gentle answer but these are not warm, gentle times. Given everything that has transpired since President Trump took office, I have no patience for disillusionment. I have no patience for the audacious luxury of choosing not to vote because of that disillusionment, as if not voting is the best choice a person could make. Not voting is, in fact, the worst choice a person could make.

In 2016, nearly 40 percent of eligible voters chose not to vote. Many who showed up to vote for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 were apparently so underwhelmed by Hillary Clinton that they simply stayed home. And, of course, there were the voters who chose third-party candidates who had no chance of winning the presidential election but were still able to affect the outcome in key states. If and how one votes is a personal choice, but that choice has consequences.

We are reaping what has been sown from voter disillusionment and we will continue doing so until enough people recognize what is truly at stake when they don’t vote. A representative democracy is flawed but it is the political system we must work within, at least for the time being. We have a responsibility to participate in this democracy, even when the politicians we vote for aren’t ideal or a perfect match. Voting isn’t dating. We are not promised perfect candidates. Voting requires pragmatism and critical thinking and empathy and now, more than ever, intelligent compromise.

Only 40 percent of Americans choose to vote during midterm elections, generally speaking. There has been a lot of talk about the importance of voting next Tuesday because we are desperate to change the political climate and the first step in doing that is shifting the balance of power in Congress. Politicians, their volunteers and progressive publications have been vigorously trying to get out the vote in a range of ways.

Many of these efforts have been well intended but poorly executed. One tactic has been the use of bait-and-switch on social media — sharing something innocuous like celebrity gossip or a recipe, only to direct people to a webpage about voting and voter registration. These efforts imply that one cannot care about both trivial things and the state of our democracy. This bait-and-switch approach may not be anyone’s primary voter outreach strategy, but it is happening often enough to grate on my nerves. These efforts are predicated upon the belief that condescension and manipulation are the only way to reach apathetic or disillusioned voters when what we need is brutal honesty.

We deserve a better class of politicians who recognize the greater good and act in service of that greater good rather than in service of amassing more power. We deserve politicians who are held accountable for their decisions. We deserve politicians from all walks of life, not just the same old wealthy white heterosexual people who are overly represented in all branches of the government.

We also deserve to be disillusioned and disappointed with what our politicians, thus far, have offered. For the most part they have failed us spectacularly because they understand that radicalism doesn’t play well even though radicalism is what we need now, more than ever. And it is certainly a travesty that universal health care and a livable minimum wage and civil rights and higher taxes on the wealthy are considered radical, but here we are.

I am going to vote on next Tuesday but I can’t say I am particularly optimistic about the impact my vote will have. Between the corrupt stranglehold the Republican Party has on political power and the incompetence and cowardice of the Democrats, voting feels futile. The politicians I will vote for don’t represent me and what I believe in as much as I would like them to.

Voter disillusionment makes perfect sense but it is also incredibly selfish and shortsighted. In the past week, a biracial man was charged with sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats; reports said he drove a van covered in hateful propaganda. A white man tried to enter a black church in Louisville, Ky., and when he couldn’t, he went to a nearby Kroger grocery store and killed two black people. On a Saturday morning in Pittsburgh, a white man entered a synagogue, shouting anti-Semitic epithets. He killed 11 Jews and injured six others. This took place in the same week in which it was reported that the Trump administration thinks it might be able to define the transgender community out of existence, and in which the president continues to use the caravan of migrants heading to the United States to stoke the xenophobic hysteria of his base.

Every single day there is a new, terrifying, preventable tragedy fomented by a president and an administration that uses hate and entitlement as political expedience. If you remain disillusioned or apathetic in this climate, you are complicit. You think your disillusionment is more important than the very real dangers marginalized people in this country live with.

Don’t delude yourself about this. Don’t shroud your political stance in disaffected righteousness. Open your eyes and see the direct line from the people in power to their emboldened acolytes. It is cynical to believe that when we vote we are making a choice between the lesser of two evils. We are dealing with a presidency fueled by hate, greed and indifference. We are dealing with a press corps that can sometimes make it seem as though there are two sides to bigotry. Republican politicians share racist memes that spread false propaganda and crow “fake news” when reality interferes with their ambitions. Progressive candidates are not the lesser of two evils here; they are not anywhere on the spectrum of evil we are currently witnessing.

If you are feeling disillusioned, get over it, at least enough to vote and vote pragmatically. Tell your friends to vote. Drive people to the polls. Support candidates you believe in with your time or, if you can afford it, money. Volunteer for community organizations that address to the issues you most care about. Attend town halls held by your elected officials. Hold them accountable for the decisions they make with the power you give them. Run for local office. Do something. Do anything.

Nothing will change by sitting at home for the midterms or any other election. We cannot afford disillusionment. We cannot afford to do nothing. Lives are at stake and if you don’t recognize that, you are no better than those with whom you are disillusioned.

Roxane Gay, an associate professor at Purdue University, is the author of “Hunger,” and a contributing opinion writer.

vote-animated

The Trump Circus

I mentioned to a few people yesterday that the thing that bothered me the most about Trump’s mockery and denigration of Dr. Christine Ford at one of his rallies on Tuesday was the fact that the audience approved.  They laughed.  They applauded.  Even far-right republicans, I thought, surely couldn’t approve of this b.s. by Trump, but it appeared that they did. Even women, some of whom surely had also been victims of sexual abuse, cheered.  I find this deeply disturbing.  This morning, as I was perusing various news outlets, I stumbled across an editorial by Charles M. Blow of the New York Times.  I believe Mr. Blow has hit the nail squarely on the head with his explanations for that crass behaviour that is so often exhibited these days at Trump rallies, and I thought his ideas were worth sharing with you …

Charles BlowThe Trump Circus

By Charles M. Blow

03 October 2018

It is a scene that has become all too common, and dare I say dangerously close to becoming mundane: Donald Trump said something outrageous at one of his political rallies and his supporters, those hopelessly beguiled by the bully, cheered.

This week, Trump trekked to Southaven, Miss., where he took the degenerate step of mocking Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

Trump imitated and chided her:

Thirty-six years ago this happened. I had one beer, right? I had one beer … How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. What neighborhood was it in? I don’t know. Where’s the house? I don’t know. Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember.

It was a repulsively grotesque spectacle, and yet from the assemblage of thousands came applause and roars of approval for Trump.

It is at moments like these that I try to step back from the particulars, to create some distance, so that I can ask myself the larger, more profound questions. How did we as a country arrive at the point where this is even possible? And how are there so many Americans willing to accept Trump’s corrosion of our culture and our discourse, to gleefully follow him as he plumbs the depths, probing for a bottom of acceptability that, in his world, seems to have been obliterated?

There are multiple explanations, to be sure: racism, xenophobia, ethnic hostility, Islamophobia, nationalism, Fox News, reduced access to privilege, lingering anti-Obama sentiments, a pronounced distrust of media in particular and truth writ large.

But I believe there are two other explanations that are much more base: entertainment and ownership.

First, the entire Trump presidency is a show, and many Americans find it quite entertaining, viewing Trump as its antihero.

He is brash, unconventional, emotional, sometimes raging and sometimes funny.

His rock-and-rage rallies (he has held nearly two dozen since being elected) are simply an extension of that, only more raw and raucous. Trump brings the big show and the big media with their big cameras to places and people who feel forgotten and isolated, looked over by the bustling coasts and the urban centers.

He is their entree to power, a personification and articulation of anger and anti-intellectualism, a way to wrap their hatreds in humor.

The rallies are part tent revival, part circus, part call-and-response game show. Like-minded people with look-alike faces populate them. They are orgies of sameness in which crowd dynamics produce and escalate a tornado of affirmation and acceptance until it is perfectly admissible to surrender any remaining morality to the mob.

It is a religious experience of conversion and immersion, a born-again baptism in which people emerge bound to one another and bound to Trump.

Trying to pry them apart from Trump, to make them somehow see the light and turn on him, is a time- and energy-wasting exercise. Trump is wielding a Jim Jones-level of influence and control over these people, and deprogramming the members of his cult would take more effort than most are willing to commit.

De-bunking the 25th Amendment Myth

Unless you’ve been in a coma for the past week, you are no doubt aware of the Anonymous OpEd piece published by the New York Times last Wednesday, September 5th.  Anonymous claims to be a ‘senior official in the Trump administration’ who is part of a group within the White House attempting to quell the worst of Trump’s inclinations.  One line in the letter stirred a great deal of conversation:

“Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.”

Early on in the Trump presidency, I mentioned the 25th Amendment a few times as a possible means for removing the madman, and at that time, I saw some hope.  But, just as I have cautioned you that impeachment is absolutely not going to fly, I must now do the same regarding the 25th Amendment.

A quick explanation of how the 25th Amendment is supposed to work:

Under Section IV of the 25th Amendment, the vice president and a majority of the cabinet can send a letter to the president pro-tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House notifying them that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” When that happens, the vice president will assume the role of “acting president” and the president is (temporarily) relieved of his duties. The president can notify congressional leadership that no incapacity exists and unless the vice president and the majority of the cabinet disagree, the president will reassume his duties. Otherwise, two-thirds of both houses of Congress would be required to vote to permanently bestow the title of “acting president” upon the vice president.

The 25th Amendment was intended to deal with a situation in which the president was incapacitated but still alive. Imagine a scenario in which the president has suffered a massive stroke. The stroke has put him in a persistent vegetative state. He is unable to discharge the office but, because he has not died, the vice president cannot assume the presidency in the normal manner. Prior to the passage of the 25th Amendment in 1967, there was no constitutional remedy for such a situation. Such a scenario is real—such a medical crisis happens to Americans every day—and if it afflicted a president, the stakes would be profound.

The intent of the 25th Amendment was not to remove presidential powers because people disagreed with the president or because they questioned his judgment. It could be argued that Trump’s behaviors and actions in office suggest that he is suffering from some mental defect or other psychological disorder that renders him “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” However, the president’s physicians have not declared that to be true, nor are they likely to. We may disagree with Trump, question his motives, or even question his competence in office, but short of a medical assessment saying otherwise, he would not be considered to be incapacitated.

Look at Mike Pence last Sunday, making the rounds of the morning talk shows and licking Trump’s boots at every stop.  Is this a man who is going to invoke the 25th?  Check out his cabinet members … find even two who would be willing to take the risk, let alone a majority.  And think about this … if they did grow a pair of cojones and take that first step … all Trump would have to do is fire the lot of them.  Ridiculous, you say?  Remember who we’re talking about here.

And then, even if all the above obstacles were overcome, we come back to the same argument I made to prove that an impeachment is not feasible:  it requires a 2/3 majority in both chambers of Congress.  The Senate, again, will be sort of a democratic majority even if every single seat that is open in November is filled by a democrat.  The republicans in Congress are not going to risk their necks, their ‘good standing’ with their voters to remove Trump from office.  Period.

So, no, Trump will not be impeached nor removed via the 25th Amendment in the foreseeable future.  My best guess is that, barring a true meltdown such as him removing all his clothing and running naked through the White House brandishing a flaming sword and screaming, “Burn, baby, burn!!!”, he will be in office until 20 January 2021.  The only way I can predict that changing is if the 36% or so who still support Trump can be convinced to listen to reason, to consider facts, to realize the dangers of him remaining in office.  As I have noted before, the republicans in Congress will move against Trump just as soon as their voters tell them to, and not one moment sooner.   It’s gonna be a long 783 days until election day 2020.