Category Archives: GOP

No Fifth Avenue Murder — Yet

Well, the reports now coming out of our nation’s capitol about the Comey memos, and where there is one I am certain there will be many others, is earth shaking.

According to multiple new agencies, quoting unnamed sources, FBI Director Comey wrote up detailed accounts in memo form of his conversations with President Trump where the president apparently attempt to kill an investigation. Apparently these memos were composed directly after the conversations and as I understand it such accounts of conversations like this have been accepted by our court as direct evidence. (I’ll leave it to my lawyers friends to correct if I am wrong about that.)

Now I can hear the cry of ‘anonymous sources means these are all lies’ already welling up from conservative denial land, These are several independent news agencies all verifying the same account. Of course you could write that all off as a ‘vast left-wing conspiracy,’ but the simpler and more direct explanation is that Trump asked Comey concern investigations into General Flynn’s Russian entanglement to ‘Let it Go,’ and I do not think that Trump is a huge Frozen fan.

During the campaign Trump boasted that he could shoot someone on Fifth avenue and not lose any supporters. While it is possible that he may have gotten someone killed over his loose lipped bragging about intel from inside ISIS, he has yet to actually shoot anyone. Yet, still he looks to have done some pretty bad things. I understand how conservative can feel a great deal of antipathy towards Democrats and liberals. I know at least one person who has lost their livelihood because of it. However sticking by Trump because he is not Clinton is disastrous. Is this truly the captain you want to go under for?

I believe that between the obsession to deliver the largest tax cut possible, while stripping 20 million people of their insurance, strapping the GOP to this egotistical, idiotic, corrupt conman can only ruin the modern Republican Party.

Is that your goal? Is that what you want? Because that’s is where you are headed.

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There are Two Possibilities

Either the Trump campaign coordinated with a foreign power to effect the outcome of our presidential election or the interference came uncoordinated from Russia.

No matter which option I think the wisest and most rational course for the GOP would be an independent prosecutor.

If there is no collusion getting the investigation done and the GOP cleared as quickly as possible is the best route to retuning the focus to the things that the GOP wants to achieve.

If the there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia then it’s best to cut out the tumor fast, before is damages the entirety of the party.

My guess from watching the spineless Republicans during the primary is that they are not going to do this but that they are going to stall and hedge and duck hoping that the problem will simply go away. This is not going to work.

The blood is already in the waters and the sharks have begun arriving. There is more than enough smoke to lead lots of people to think that there is a fire and the only question in their mind is ‘how big?’ Firing the director of the FBI is the sort of thing only someone with little knowledge of how Washington works would do. If Trump though he was fighting the ‘deep state’ before wait until he has the FBI at war with him.

I have no sympathy for the GOP. They had their chance to avoid this during the primaries. They stoked the irrational and lie fueled campaign of the last eight years the logical result of that is the election of a irrational and lied filled President. The bill always comes due and no amount of hiding from the collectors will save them.

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7% of the way there

Well we have just passed the 100 day mark for the Trump administration. (Though I hate using the word ‘mark’ as that reminds me of the ultimate designation of the American Public under this President – marks.) Out of the 1461 days for the 4 years expected from a presidential term we have endured seven percent, only 93 more to go.

I have seen people giving the administration its 100 day grade, the most ridiculous being an A+ because Trump is not Hillary Clinton. (Nice to know that Conservative would grade Stalin an A+ because he also was not Hillary Clinton.)

My own take is that the administration is a hot radioactive dumpster fire of incompetence and corruption but there have been and continue to be bright spots.

Our institutions are strong and fulfilling their constitutional duties. Trump has discovered that being a petulant man-baby with delusions of strength carries no weight in a court of law. Repeatedly his most egregious actions have been slapped down by the judiciary.

The Body Politic appears to be awakening from its slumber. More and more people are paying attention to the business of politics and that bodes well for reforms and participation.

The GOP is being forced to confront the contradictions of their heated, angry rhetoric with the reality of governing. The incendiary fire that has boiled the GOP down to a concentrated base of its most reactionary components is utterly incapable of the necessary compromises of governance. The first 100 days of a presidential term is the period when the public still has good feeling towards the newly hatched executive and with a united control of the government, the passing into law of major policy goals should have been a given, but that has proven to be beyond the reach of the GOP. Sure they have managed to undue some of hated Obama’s regulatory actions, but no major legislation has passed and it is not because of the opposition party.

The GOP has majorities in both house, what the GOP does not have is rationality. IN part due to the drumbeat of purity that drove out the ‘RINOs’, in part due to the shrill voices of the GOP news/entertainment arms, and also in part due to ‘safe districts’ the Republicans have engineered a majority that cannot agree with itself.

The ‘Hassert Rule’ means that every sizable faction within the GOP’s elected member has an effective veto over legislation. No faction can be ignore or eliminated and the hard core purists will not compromise while the moderates have no inclination to commit electoral suicide .

It is so much easier to bitch, complain, and criticize than it is to do anything and that goes even more so for a complex mechanism like government. Except for Guns, Abortion, and Taxes there is precious little that the GOP faction agree with and zealotry has an inverse relationship with competence.

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A Smart Bomb is no Good to a Dead Man

So the Democrats are launching a filibuster in the Senate to try and derail Trump’s Nominee for SCOTUS. Majority Leader McConnell is threatening to invoke the ‘nuclear option’ and finish the job the Democrats started in killing the filibuster. (Though it should be noted that Threat and the Name for the act started with the Republicans but was not invoked at that time due to the action of The Gang of Eight)

Some have said that the Democrats should hold off, that if they invoke a filibuster all they will achieve is forcing the GOP to change the rules and kill it off, winning nothing. The most cogent argument I have read is that they should hold off until there is a nominee or issue that has more than 50 GOP member willing to vote for it, but not willing to change the rules over it and the nominee.

That’ doesn’t seem wise to me.

The unprecedented obstruction shown by the GOP, refusing even a hearing for the last president’s nominee indicates that there is no deal to be made, no compromise that will stand. The GOP will do whatever it takes, break whatever norm stands in their way to achieve their goals and the Democrats should adapt to the new battlefield.

To those who say invoking it only forces the GOP to kill it I answer, it you can’t use it because you will lose it, then what good is it anyway? If you have a resource you can not utilize then it is no resource.

Failing to take that stand will have consequences. The liberal elements of the political body are energized and they are not in a make nice and let’s all get along mood. Any Democratic Senator who acquiesces to trump’s will without a fight will find that they are in a fight anyway but with their own base.

To me the only logical move is to resist, make your stand clearly with your base, and keep your eyes fixed on tomorrow.

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How to make Hillary President

Oh, the bonfire that is the Trump Presidency burns hotter, fiercer, and larger than I had ever imagined during the election. There is ample cause to suspect that corruption, incompetence, and out right collusion with a hostile foreign power go all the way into the Oval Office.

(Suspect! I hear some of you cry, and Renault remains Shocked to find gambling going on at Rick’s. Nothing has yet been proven so I leave it to you to follow your own noses in tracking the stench that is the Trump operation.)

One thing I think is clear is that the modern GOP is quite unlike that one of the 70’s and they will never remove Trump from office no matter the stink, the mud, and the crime, but there is an election next year and that could change everything.

Now what follows is fanciful but within the realm of possibility and law; as a speculative fiction writer it fun for me to dream up implausible for possible futures.

One: The Democratic Party wins the election taking back the House and the Senate next year. The hill remains steep in the House but Trump is proving disastrously bad as a president and he might sink the GOP’s majority.

Two: The House names Hillary Clinton as their New Speaker of the House. (Nothing in the constitution or the House rules require that the Speak be a sitting representative.

Three: Trump has proven himself corrupt enough that the Democrats impeach and remove him from office.

Four: They follow that up with impeachment of President Pence, provided that they can make those charges stick and given the grime that appears to be swirling around this administration it might be possible.

Five: Hillary Clinton as Speaker of the House become the 47th President of the United States.

Wait, I hear you Bernie supporters screaming about Step two, because after all if anyone can be named Speaker of the House and third in line for the Presidency why not your guy, Sanders?

Quite simply, he’s not the popular vote winner of the last contest and to me that carries weight. However if you want someone other than Hillary I would suggest that you go with someone who meets the requirements for the officer but who would be Constitutionally ineligible to seek a term via the 2020 election, (The 22nd Amendment prevents presidents from being elected to more than two terms.), so they just give the job back to Barak Obama.

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Is This A Dagger …

Well if they stick to their schedule the U.S. House of Representative will vote tonight to repeal the ACA ‘ObamaCare.’ Note that this is a budgetary bill and as such should it survive in the Senate will be immune to filibuster.

As I write this it is uncertain if Paul Ryan has mustered the votes to pass the bill out of the House. To satisfy the more conservative members of the GOP he has recently added even more draconian amendments to a bill that has already been scored by the CBO as pushing up to 14 million people off their health insurance by next year’s off-cycle election.

Now in addition to allowing insurers to charge older patients up to five times the rate of younger patients while slashing subsidies so that their prices sky rocket, this bill now seeks to strip out the essential coverage requirements of the ACA. This is a list f ten essential aspects that all health insurance now must cover, such as drugs.

This amendment stripping the coverage requirements may not survive the senate because it can easily be ruled as beyond the budget and that would open it up to a filibuster. Even if the parliamentarian rules the amendment allowed there are wavering GOP Senators unhappy with the such extreme measures, and the GOP’s vote margin is one vote. (Normally it would be two, but one member is out ill.)

Why add this is it almost certainly cannot pass the Senate?

Because they are facing a pressure that they cannot resist, the Tea Party Base.

For six years the number one target on the Tea Party’s hit list has been the ACA and the GOP has gone along, promising repeal on day one of they reign. There are people who hate the ACA because it is not single payer, there are people who hate the ACA because of limited networks and high costs, there are people who hate the ACA because it forces you to buy insurance, and there are people who hate the ACA because it makes some people pay more in taxes.

Some of these group can be made happy by reforming and adjusting the ACA, but those last two can only be happy with killing it. Amid the GOP no faction has the number to impose their will and many have the number to kill anything they hate. Ryan has been trying to square that circle and to my eyes he’s given up.

He’s going to win over enough of the Tea Party/Freedom Caucus to get the thing off his desk and onto McConnell’s where it will likely die.

If it dies in the Senate McConnell should look out for knives in the back – a grand Senatorial tradition even if this time they will be metaphorical. The conservative GOP Senators, Cruz and the like, will be blaming him and Ryan will be pushing that train with everything he’s got. His only hope is selling the lie that Repeal would have worked if the Senate have gone all wobbly.

This is a trap of their own construction and if millions of lives didn’t hang in the outcome I’d be getting the popcorn.

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Our National Wound

Trump has lost two senior advisers, one who had been placed National Security Advisor, due to improper ties and communication with Russia, a country that many in our intelligence community believes worked to not only disrupt our presidential election but whose preferred outcome was the election of an untested narcissist.

I do find it ironic that many of those who have repeated allegations as fact that Edward Kennedy sought Soviet help in stopping Reagan’s election are suddenly so silent and insistent upon airtight evidence in the Trump allegations. It always depends on whose ox is getting gored.

I have also heard people on the liberal side calling for some sort of special election; in effect a presidential do over. People, that is not going to happen. To the best of my knowledge there is no provision whatsoever in our constitution for a special presidential election. If you truly want to remove all of the Russian tainted personnel from the executive branch there is only one way to get that done before 2020. I am not saying it is something that can be achieved, too many people have tied themselves to the wheel of the Sailing ship Trump and they are hoping that the storm doesn’t sink them.

Step One: VP Pence steps down. No so far nothing his tied him directly to any of the Russian issues but he’s Trump’s pick ad that alone is a taint.

Step Two: The truly impossible step – Trump names someone as the new VP that is a Republican who is acceptable to the Democrats in the Congress. No Tea Party, Freedom Caucus, is going to make it but it would have to be someone most conservative would call a ‘RINO.’ It has to be that way because the fact of the matter is that the GOP controls Congress and no one is going to be approved except a Republican.

Step Three: The new VP leads the Cabinet in removing Trump as president under the 25th amendment and both houses of Congress approve.

Step Three: The newly minted President fires everyone hired by the last one and we reboot the Administration.

All of this is within the constitution but it is not going to happen. Trump would not play ball, Pence may not, and with the current enmity in congress even the possibility of a foreign power holding influence over the white house will not spur the left and right to work together.

No, we are stuck with Trump until Pence and the Cabinet remove him or he is impeached but both options require the GOP to possess a spine.

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It’s Not a Dumpster Fire It’s a Meltdown

Recently on twitter I called the Trump administration a dumpster-fire, but now, as the title of this post suggest, I am revising it upward to a core melt-down. The control rods are stuck, the reactor temp is rising quickly, and no one know how to operate the scram systems.

The level of leaking, backstabbing, lying, and defenestration currently exhibited by the White House is the sort of thing you would expect a few years into an administration that has been fighting a long running scandal. It has been less than a month since Trump took office and the future looks long and bleak.

It does not help that the GOP, having sold their souls for thirty electoral votes, now find themselves chained to a drowning man who insists that they are in fact on dry land. Plugging their fingers into their ears and screaming ‘I can’t hear you!’ they studiously ignore the growing scandal that is their president. I think the best hope for the GOP is if they could find a quick way to remove 45 from office, but that is not going to happen. Impeachment takes time and a spine, something congressional Republicans have in short supply. Invoking the 25th amendment could have him out in less than a month but that requires VP Pence to lead the charge and convince more than half of the Cabinet to back him up and Trump’s Cabinet appears to have been picked for loyalty to him and not the nation has a whole. No, it looks like the GOP and the nation are stuck with Trump on one side and the ‘Freedom’ Caucus on the other. If this maintains throughout 2017 and into the next year the mid-term election could be interesting.

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A Missed Opportunity

The recent kerfuffle with Senator Mitch McConnell leading the Republicans in censoring Senator Elizabeth Warren over her attempts to read Mrs. King’s letter concerning Jeff Sessions when he was nominated and rejected for a Judgeship represents a blown communications opportunity for the Democratic Party.

Certainly people are making hay of McConnell’s ‘She Persisted’ quote. Turning it into empowering memes and it may even become part of her re-election slogans, but that’s not where the Democrats should have had their eyes. Everything should have been about Sessions and not anyone else.

They had no chance to stop this nomination. If Devos or Carson could be confirmed then barring some truly outrageous scandal everyone that President Trump sends up will be confirmed. There is no filibuster and after eight years of opposing Obama’s administration the GOP have learned to close ranks and hold the line. The nominees will be confirmed, so what the Democrats should do is make sure that ever wart, every bit of bad news gets as much play as can be had for future use. Having the conversation be about Senator Warren and double standards between men and women does not advance their cause and turns the spotlight away from Sessions.

A number of other Senators took the floor of the Senate reading the same letter, but my understanding is that they all altered or omitted the language that McConnell has objected to. Now it is entirely beside the point if that language mattered in its substance, all that really mattered is that McConnell did not want it read it into the record. What each and every Democratic Senator should have done is read exactly the parts that McConnell silenced Warren over. Either McConnell is then forced to move against them in the same manner, and the news of the day becomes ‘Is this language, and by extension its subject, Sessions unfit for the floor of the Senate?’ The coverage would be about those lines, about Sessions, and what was McConnell so fearful of? Or he backs downs, looks weak, and it gets read into the record. Either way the result would be favorable for the Democratic position. What they did only played into McConnell’s hands and now everyone is talking about Warren, and if women are treat harsher than men when they speak out and such. Now those are not bad conversations to have, but they pulled the attention away from Sessions and why the Democrats, rightly or wrongly, opposed his nomination.

McConnell, sharpened by eight years of parliamentary battles against Obama and his people, is a sharp cagy man and the Democrats will need to get better if they intend to win political wars and not just news cycles.

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Rules for Working with Trump

This advice, as silly as it seems to write it; I have no connection to anyone in power and they have no inclination to listen to me, is for the movers and shakers of Washington in the era of Trump.

It is a mistake to think that Trump is motivated by the same concerns and desires as the politicians you have battled before. Fight him like a traditional political opponent and he’ll win and the GOP will have his back. You can win, you can prevent disaster but first learn the rules.

Rule One: This rule supersedes all other considerations when dealing with or planning to deal with Donald J. Trump. Trump is a narcissist. Anything or any promise that does not flatter and inflate his ego is doomed to be, at best, a short duration success. Every proposal and every action must reflect this basic reality.

Rule Two: Trump will never admit fault or error, all arguments to sway his opinion must not only obey Rule One they must never require an admission of past error. Past errors are best unspoken and consigned to their status as unhistory.

Rule Three: Aside from family, loyalty for Trump runs only in the direct of himself. He is incapable of loyalty to anything that does not carry his blood or name.

Rule Four: All unsecured cash flows towards Trump. Secure your cash at every turn and never rely upon any agreement concerning payments from Trump in any direction other than towards himself and his family..

Rule Five: In Trump’s world there are enemies to be crushed and lackeys. Once he thinks he has crushed an enemy he’ll expend no more thought and anything said in the crushing is immaterial. Play the lackey and you may be able to steer him using the rules above.

 

Notice that none of these rules have anything to do with political ideology. Political thought is irrelevant when dealing with Trump. There are few things on which he can be counted on to be consistent. Count on tax breaks, see Rule Four. He will be favorable to Russian and autocrats. Some of these issues you simply have to let slide for the next two years, the united front of Trump and the GOP will do what it does. On some fronts, such as Russia, it will be possible to sow division between Trump and the GOP, but the most gains are possible in area where the GOP are ideologically locked but Trump is not.

By using the Rules and playing the man not the politics it is possible to expand healthcare and a number of other issues. If Trump feels something will grow his popularity, it will feed his ego and make him want these things. Best case outcome is he frightens the GOP members enough that some of it can be passed, worst case is he and GOP fall into infighting and thereby they limit their damage.

The game is poker and Trump doesn’t realize that at this table he is the Chump.

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