So what exactly is the game John Bolton is playing with Congress right now? My current theory has several parts to it.
He’s Slow Walking He simply wants to delay his testimony until it’s way too little, too late. He doesn’t really want to testify if it has any political importance. He wants to dangle the possibility of testifying in front of House Democrats with the hope that they will delay the articles of impeachment so long that the whole thing gets pushed into 2020 and, well, “let the people decide.” Lulz!
He Has A Book To Sell He might want to gin up his profile during the process of coyly suggesting he has the goods on House Trump to such an extent that he can release his book late enough in the 2020 presidential campaign as to get the biggest headlines possible. Remember — an acquitted Trump is going to be a tyrant. He will be an criminally incompetent tyrant, but he’ll be a tyrant nonetheless. So, in real terms, it’s a win-win for Bolton. He gets to make a big splash with his book and Trump cheats to re-election and maybe even forgives Bolton in his second term. Maybe Secretary of State? Lulz!
He Wants To Give More Cover For Republican Senators If Bolton plays his cards right, the media narrative will be like that island where we’ll find gold once the last tree dies of natural causes. The general consensus will be on the part of Republican Senators that Bolton is the key to “knowing the truth” and on a political level they have a pass to acquit Trump because of this. Lulz!
So, again, we’re fucked. We’re totally, completely fucked. Barring something extra-political like Trump going nuts or MAGA overplaying its hand with anti-impeachment violence, Trump’s American Carnage vision will be a reality soon enough.
One thing I see a lot among Twitter liberals is the idea that there is some logical argument that would trap Republicans into — on a political level — agreeing to remove Trump from office at some point in the future. Alas, this is not at all the case.
Republicans are such bad-faith political actors at this point that Trump is going to get acquitted quite easily no matter what any other political considerations may indicate. Not only is Trump going to be “unbound” the moment the Senate acquits him, even under the best of scenarios the moment a Democrat is sworn in as president he or she is going to be impeached in just over two years.
Let’s unpack this.
So, the first issue is Trump is going to go full tyrant the moment he’s acquitted. There will be no free-and-fair election in 2020. He will do everything in his power to cheat in an extremely brazen manner because, lulz, we’re supposed to “let the people decide in 2020.” Those people will be either plutocrats in America or Russians in Moscow. The only thing stopping Trump from immediately ordering ICE to round up people like me and murdering us in Killing Fields in, say, upstate New York, is he’s criminally incompetent.
Should something happen miraculously to allow a Democrat to become president in 2021, the Republicans will plot to impeach that president the moment they likely regain power in the House in 2022. They will be so quick to do it, they will likely have Articles drawn up by the time Election Night is over. The Republican Party is really the MAGA Party now and they will stop at nothing to ruin any Democratic president because, well, by definition they’re not legitimate in their eyes.
As I keep saying there are really only two known unknowns that might throw us a curve ball
Trump’s Reaction To Impeachment I don’t really want our nation to go through this type of crisis, but if Trump snaps mentally in some sort of explosive manner then that old House Trump may at least be delayed in its founding. This is a real wild card going forward. In real terms, House Trump’s best bet is Trump survives mentally until some point in his second term. Trump’s replacement for Pence — Kris Kobach or Tom Cotton or whatever young, passionate fascist he dregs up from the sewers of hate — will be the one to finally found The Thousand Year Trump. America will be a nation of “blood and soil” not of ideas and, like, I said, the ICE camp system will be weaponized and, well, sucks to be me.
Anti-Impeachment Violence From MAGA This is another real wild card. It could happen suddenly and take us all off guard in a major way. After about 24 hours of The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman saying this OF COURSE means the impeachment process has to end, the exact opposite thing will happen and that will be that.
I really, really, really don’t want either one of these things to happen, however. I want to defeat Trump on strictly political grounds, come what may.
So, here are the bullshit defenses of Trump I’ve seen on Twitter of late. All of them are really attempts to message the base. We’ll see how successful they are.
“No Due Process” This defense muddles the rights someone has in a criminal case with what the Constitution affords a politician in the strictly political process of impeachment. They mix and match pieces of the Constitution to conflate things in the minds of the public. By definition, impeachment is a political process and as such, the whole thing is really basically partisan — especially in this era of extreme political tribalism and identity politics.
“Political Death Penalty” This defense says that while what Trump did was bad, it wasn’t bad enough for the “political death penalty” of conviction in the Senate. This is complete and total bullshit because of what Trump is credibly accused of doing — not only trying to give himself political cover to pardon Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn, but to get dirt on Joe Biden to use against him in the 2020 campaign. What’s worse, Trump didn’t even want the dirt, he just wanted a public announcement on the part of the Ukrainians that they were looking into Biden. Trump remaining in office through the 2020 election doesn’t actually give me much confidence that there would be free-and-fair elections.
“Partisan Witch Hunt” This is defense is bullshit because the facts are that Trump did, in fact, do what he’s accused of doing. What’s more Bill Clinton was impeached in large part because of an actual partisan conspiracy on the part of Linda Tripp, Lucianne Goldberg and Matt Drudge and Bill Clinton was impeached because of it, though not convicted. Two things can both be true — a lot of people hate Trump and Trump did, in fact, do something that warrants his impeachment and removal from office.
“Let The People Decide” This defense goes hand in hand with the “bad but not worth impeachment, much less conviction” defense. This is complete bullshit because Trump’s proven that he loves, loves, loves to meddle in elections and if he’s politically pardoned again, he’s going to grow so brazen and emboldened that there won’t be any stopping his re-election by any means necessary. Which, of course, is pretty much what the person who uses this dumb defense actually really wants.
I’m growing more confident in my view that Trump will ultimately be acquitted by the Senate. The “what he did was bad but not THAT bad” line will begin to take traction and the rest will take care of itself. We’ll be lucky to get a 50-50 tie.
Now, there are different reactions to this almost near-inevitability.
MAGA: They will see it as final confirmation that they are above the law. They are finally free of any political constraints. Trump will grow extremely brazen in his authoritarian actions. We won’t have a free-and-fair election in 2020. At some point in Trump’s second term, he begins to demand a Constitutional Convention to pass a balance budget amendment, and it goes rouge. American Carnage is codified in the Constitution, the Thousand Year Trump is founded and sometime about 2023 people like me are “vanished.” I am sent to a ICE camp and shot dead at some point. Luz?
Biden Democrats: They will somehow continue to fool themselves that everything is still normal. They will want to reach across the aisle to get things done. Republicans will laugh in their face. The macro problems in the country that impeachment accelerated will come to a head. In the end, the Biden Democrats will likely suffer the most when ICE camps are weaponized.
The point is, I would rather go down fighting and on a politically honest level than meekly give up and let Trump do what he’s going to do anyway. The only thing to date that has stopped use from becoming a Russia-style “managed democracy” has been that Trump is criminally incompetent. He will remain so, but he’s finally getting to the point that he understands how to abuse power more effectively.
Republicans are bad faith political actors, full stop. They’re little more than old school fascists. They see democracy as nothing more than a means to an end — obtaining and keeping power and obtaining as much money as possible as quickly as possible. They’re willing to say any lie, break any law and ultimately hurt anyone they have to hurt to do this. In hindsight, the Republicans are pretty obvious marks for the Russians — they are so blinded by absolute greed that they don’t even think about how accepting money from Russians is a betrayal of their country. It doesn’t even enter their minds.
As I keep saying, there are two “known unknowns.”
Trump’s mental state If he finally snaps in a really public manner, then his acquittal in the Senate grows more debatable. I’m beginning to think this is just my own liberal fever dream in the midterm. He may go nuts, but I think he’ll be able to survive until his second term. House Trump will be so brazen by that point that Don Jr. may be the Crown Prince Veep. When Trump finally goes bonkers, Don Jr. becomes Emperor, er…President, and away we go.
Anti-Impeachment Violence This is another thing I simply don’t know what to expect. We’ve reached enough of a stabilization in the situation that I’m beginning to think — thankfully — that such violence is unlikely. There may be some “false flag” attempts at violence on MAGA’s part, but overall I think we’re reasonably safe on that front.
So, I would say the real issue is to what extent does House Trump alienate progressive-liberals in Hollywood that they begin to leave the country en mass. Silicon Valley is probably much safer on that front. But a lot of very productive people are center-Left, so it’s possible that when ICE starts to shoot us in the back of the head, the people who can leave, will leave.
I just don’t have the resources to do this myself. But here’s want I want.
— An intuitive, feature rich chart (a circle?) that you can study that gives the audience some sense of where each of the 100 Senators stand on impeachment. — It would be set up so the one person who really has the most power in all of this — the 67th Senator — would be really focused on. Whomever falls as the 67 Senator relative to both party affiliation and alphabet would be the one person we would learn the most about. — It would be dynamic, so it would change as we rush towards the actual trial and vote.
It’s just too complicated for me to do alone because the vote is done in alphabetical order, so Republicans and Democrats are scattered across the actual vote as it proceeds.
Ahhh, Trump’s ever-elusive taxes. I don’t know exactly what’s going on in the Federal courts right now to give you a detailed explanation, but I enough to get some sense of the significance. Really, at this point, the best case scenario for House Trump is they’re able to successfully slow-walk the whole thing past the Senate trial. Once Trump’s acquitted, House Trump can pretty much tell the rule of law to fuck off and do whatever the fuck they want. No power grab will be too brazen as we lurch towards the 2020 election which will, by definition, be neither free nor fair.
But let’s suppose SCOTUS rules one way or another in time for it to be relevant. Let’s go through the possible endgames.
SCOTUS Punts If Justice Roberts simply punts the issue, then that’s a pretty big decision. Trump will have either cough his taxes up, or not. Either decision will be a massive turning point in not only House Trump’s political history, but the nation in general. More on this in a second.
SCOTUS Rules In House Trump’s Favor Justice Roberts takes the case and fascist Republicans’ vision of a remaking the Judiciary finally pay off the way they crave, then Trump’s a Putin-style authoritarian. He’s above the law. Game over.
SCOTUS Rules Against House Trump Like I mentioned, all this only matters if it happens in time to influence the existing impeachment process. Otherwise, lulz. So, let’s say the House Trump attempt to slow walk fails. In a 5-4 vote, Trump’s ordered to release his taxes immediately.
Trump Ignores This While the dipshit MAGA fuckheads would spin this as a mere “process crime,” in fact, it would be the biggest Constitutional Crisis since the end of the Civil War. If Trump simply ignored this ruling, it would likely be thrown into the impeachment pot as “obstruction of SCOTUS.” For the average dumbass MAGA person who just hates black people and women, I guess they’ll feel free to overlook this situation until Trump’s acquitted and the ICE camps can be weaponized.
Trump Abides By This If Trump weirdly does the right thing and releases his taxes, this just might save his sorry ass. If everything we’re afraid of is in them, is in them, it would be such an explosion that House Democrats would realize they had to dig into the taxes to sort out exactly the astonishing scope of Trump’s criminality. By the time the dust settles, it’s Feburary 2020, “let the people decide” is a Republican mantra and Trump is free to get Peter Thiel to bribe individual Electors. Or not. There’s a small chance it would be this taxes that might tip the political scale against him in the Senate. But I find that dubious.
It’s more likely to be Trump completely losing his shit or MAGA anti-impeachment violence that would ultimately cook Trump’s political goose.
Trump is a moron. If he really was all that smart, he would flood the zone with corruption and sit back and wait. Instead of stonewalling, he would open the floodgates. Release his taxes. Let everyone testify. Release the unredacted Mueller Report.
This would so overwhelm House Democrats that they would spend months investigating all of this. They would be pushed into the primary season and people would just say at some point, “Let the people decide.”
Trump would then be effectively politically pardoned AGAIN. He could become even more brazen. He gets re-elected through criminal means. Yeah, the 2020 election would be an American Brexit at this point, but all he cares about is getting into his second term. Once he’s in his second term, his new Veep Kris Kobach (or whatever young, passionate fascist he picks to replace Pence) will establish the Thousand Year Trump. Don Jr. eventually becomes president and we have Trumps for the next twenty years.
Though Trump could just name Don Jr. his veep for 2020 and cut out the middle man. That really would establish The Thousand Year Trump.
But Trump’s an idiot. He’s nothing more than a deranged version of Being There’s Chauncey Gardner. He’s going to be acquitted by the Senate unless something extra-political happens and it backfires.
On a basic political level, we have to accept that Trump is going to be acquitted by the Senate. He will grow even more brazen between then and the 2020 election. It will not be a free-and-fair election. And, really, the only things that will stop him from going full fascist will be his own criminal incompetence.
But that’s not even really an issue because he just has to get into his second term. Once that’s happened, even if he finally goes batshit insane, whatever young, passionate fascist he picks to replace Pence will establish The Thousand Year Trump and for at least the next 20 to 30 years American Carnage will turn America into the Far Right’s dream. Plutocrats will run the country even more than they already do. ICE Camps will be weaponized and people such as myself will be “disappeared.” Any hope that we have of returning to the America I grew up in will have to wait until the youngest of the Baby Boomers die off and the Browning of America kicks in. Even then, the fascist state could linger for decades until a Nelson Mandela type figure arises that rights the ship of state, at last.
If you see this worst case scenario as your best case scenario, please, on a personal level fuck off. Eat shit. Fuck you and the horse you road in on.
The issue is, everyone has to drop the facade about what’s going no. Republicans are not dealing in good faith in any way. They live in abject terror of Trump’s Twitter feed. There are systemic, structural problems at the heart of our government (and at least one) of our major political parties. These issues are not going to be fixed anytime soon, no matter what happens. It doesn’t help that the press is apparently completely oblivious to what’s going on and continue to believe that Republicans are acting in good faith, when in, fact, it’s quite obvious they aren’t and haven’t been for some time. They crave power for power’s sake. They have an absolute lust for money. There’s no stopping them in this quest for at least the next 20 years. Even if they lose in the short term, they will win in the long term.
Having said all that, it’s rather tragic that the only scenarios I can think of whereby we don’t turn into a Russian-style “managed democracy” the moment after Trump is acquitted in the Senate all involve some pretty batshit insane — and in real terms, unpredictable and unwanted — events.
I mean, I don’t really want Trump to snap mentally in a very public manner. I certainly don’t him to go transactional with his Twitter feed to such an extent that people start to get hurt.
I’m just noting in passing that some combination of those two are the only weaknesses to the 40 year plan on the part of the Republicans to burn our democracy to the ground and turn us into a plutocracy based on a “blood and soil.”
As I’ve said before, I can’t predict the future. Usually, things are far more muddled than one can predict. And the impeachment process may be no different. And, yet, I’ve also long said that whatever the outcome of this clusterfuck, we’ll be in a new era.
Right now, all down to a matter of specifics when it comes to MAGA fuckers breaking the law and outing the Trump Whistleblower. Sen. Rand Paul apparently thinks there’s no law preventing him from simply blurting the name out whenever the mood strikes him, so lulz.
Meanwhile, Sean Hannity is a very wealthy man. There’s simply no downside to him blurting the name out on his show tonight — or anytime this week. So he gets sued. He hires the best lawyers in the nation and gets whine about about being a martyr for the cause in the face of the Deep State. Trump will owe him a solid. And, really, what better way to kick of Hannity’s political career than to do something so absolutely stupid in the name of Der Further. Trump can pardon him, if need be.
Once the Whistleblower is outed in a major, public way, then the two sides go back to their corners to plot their next move. Republicans will scream at the top of their lungs that the impeachment process has to end immediately because Whistleblower had a work relationship with Joe Biden and Susan Rice. They will do everything in their power to “kavanaugh” him in the eyes of the public. The will wallow in whatever political dirty tricks they have to get the base to dismiss Trump’s growing number of proven Big Boy Crimes against the Constitution.
Logically, all this would happen….NOW. Why it hasn’t happened yet is something of a mystery to me.
Two other things continue to linger in my mind. One is Trump’s mind exploding, not imploding in a really massive, public manner. Really, that particular fear is a long-term one. It could happen anytime between now and whenever Trump gets Peter Thiel to bribe just enough Electors to get him into his second term. At that point Trump will be a puddle and Trump’s second term Veep, Evil JFK Kris Kobach, can take over and establish The Thousand Year Trump.
The other thing I have a lot of unease about is extra-political moves on the part of MAGA fuckheads who are inspired by Trump unceasingly overheated and overwrought rhetoric on Twitter. Republicans will defend it, of course, and will even spin it as a reason why impeachment has to end. “People are getting hurt!”
But I believe Americans will collectively call bullshit on this foolishness and the political ground under Trump’s feet would begin to buckle in a pretty significant manner. Political violence is so alien to Americans that should there be any anti-impeachment violence, Trump’s fire break of general apathy on the part of the non-Twitter using public would go poof.
We also need to accept that good faith debate is now a dead letter in America. Republicans are old school fascists at this point. They have macro trends in their favor, but they’re so craven — and their leader so stupid — that they’re careening towards such a massive clusterfuck that their inevitable consolidation of power may at least be momentarily delayed. Even that is simply a “maybe.” But I do think if we are honest with ourselves and realize the Republican Party is a fascist, criminal enterprise now the sooner we will be more serious about impeachment stakes.
Republicans only care about laws and democracy if it helps them again power or money or both. No one is going to save us. There is no “Resistance,” we have to save ourselves. If we were a functioning democracy, we’d have massive rolling protests across the entire country until Republicans took notice. But that’s just not going to happen.
Things are going to get very, very dark. I would say the next 20 years will see America as nothing more than a Russian-style “managed democracy” until the youngest of the Baby Boomers begin to drop dead and the Browning of America kicks in. Even then, there’s a good chance it could be decades after that point before we stop being a mixture of modern day Venezuela and Apartheid South Africa. The political pendulum has broken for the next few decades.
The worst case scenario of the American Republic is here.
The moment the extra-political move of releasing the Whistleblower’s name is a done deal, MAGA may find itself in something of a pickle. Now, the thing they want from this illegal act, they will get, at least in the short term.
They will dominate the newscycle for at least 24 hours. They will have something to pivot to whenever someone asks them about Trump’s many, many, many impeach-and-convict crimes. And they can probably, at least within their own bullshit echo chamber, make everything about the character and motives of the Whistleblower, not the proven criminal offenses against the Constitution that Trump has committed.
So, on a superficial level, at least relative to their own metrics, MAGA will have scored a major victory in their burn-everything-to-the-ground to save the Dear Leader impeachment strategy. But the current impeachment war is not The Mueller Report. Though Bill Barr is likely to hand down a slew of bogus criminal referrals before this is all over with, the actual impeachment train has likely left the station.
Trump’s going to get impeached. But he’s also probably going to be acquitted by the Senate. And, yet, the very extra-political things MAGA thinks will help them in the short term, could seal Trump’s long-term political fate in a way that they may not like. Maybe. If it all boils down to simply messaging the base with vitriol against Whistleblower for getting the Dear Leader in trouble, then I guess it’s a win.
But there are some pretty serious known unknowns.
There could be serious anti-impeachment violence on the part of MAGA if Trump spends all day losing his shit over the identity of the Whistleblower. What to him will be a throwaway line about, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” may come back to haunt him in an existential way. Americans don’t brook political violence of any sort. If there’s some obvious causality between Trump’s ranting on Twitter and any kind of anti-impeachment violence, that old Thousand Year Trump may not be as much of a sure thing as Don Jr. might think.
Add this to the non-zero sum chance that Trump will simply lose his shit when what he thinks will happen once everyone knows who the Whistleblower is — the impeachment process abruptly ends — doesn’t happen, and you have a recipe for a very, very dark moment in our nation’s political history.
I can’t predict the future. I have no idea what is going to happen. But do know that Whistleblower’s name is going to pop out in a big way very, very soon. My current theory is Sean Hannity will martyr himself for Der Fuehrer and blurt the guy’s name out on his show. Trump will then turn around and rant for weeks about how the guy is a traitor or hates America or wants to take people’s guns, or whatever insane bullshit happens to pop into his fevered fucked up mind.
But it could happen any number of different ways. It is, however, just a matter of time before we enter the extra-political phase of this unfortunate clusterfuck.