What the fuck is wrong with Sen. Rand Paul? Leaving aside why an avowed libertarian would be such a fucking suckup to Trump, what does he honestly expect will happen if we get the Whistleblower’s name? (We will get it sooner rather than later, but, still.)
All I got is on the face of it, he thinks on a political level it significantly helps Trump’s case because the name not only gives Republicans built-in talking points, but they can pivot to the Whistleblower’s connections to Joe Biden and Susan Rice whenever the issue of Trump’s many impeach-and-convict crimes come up in conversations with reporters. If you’re exclusively messaging the fucking racist, misogynistic dipshit MAGA people who love fascism and liberal tears, then you can, at least in your own Republican Senator mind, excuse Trump’s crimes against the Constitution because, well, the person who reported them is not a MAGA person. On a very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very stupid level — like date your sister stupid level — I guess if you’re a MAGA person you can spooge your pants now that the vast Deep State Conspiracy has been exposed….for simply pointing out that Trump’s “perfect phone call” actually showed a massive, historic abuse of power.
But, lulz. If you’re MAGA you hate black people and women. You hate America and democracy. All you care about power and money and sucking Trump’s political cock. So you can delude yourself into thinking everyone else will fall for this political messaging that helps you get to sleep at night.
I guess it’s at least possible this might happen. I guess.
There’s a real danger, however, that things may careen out of control. There may be violence direct against the Whistleblower on the part of MAGA. What political objectives this might accomplish are something of a mystery to me. But I guess having blood on your hands will somehow…prove to Godless pinko liberals that MAGA has the best interests of America at heart?
I don’t know. Just be careful what you wish for, MAGA. Americans don’t abide by political violence. What may seem like a great idea at first may not work out quite the way you expect it.
I still have no idea what’s going to happen to Trump politically. We haven’t gotten to the point where the politics of impeachment really make it existential for Trump. He’s flipping out, yes, but that’s more a matter of him NOT being a political genius, but a man-child with poor impulse control.
But here are some Trump defenses I’ve seen lately and some of my hot takes on addressing them.
The Putin Defense Trump may have done something wrong, but, really, politicians in general do bad stuff all the time and this is just a matter of degree. MAGA, MAGA, MAGA. Trump 2020.
Response Trump’s specific crimes in this instance are so brazen, so egregious that if you hide behind this Putinesque defense, then there’s not much to say. You’re showing yourself to be so absolutely unwilling to consider the facts of the case that what’s the point?
The ‘Bad For The Country’ Defense Trump’s impeachment is too divisive. We can’t impeach him because he won’t be convicted and he’ll only grow stronger. This is usually stated in the same breath as “Let the people decide.”
Response This is a bullshit defense because what you’re really saying is it hurts your side too much politically. You secretly are a partisan hack and you have but a thin-veneer of objectivity to hide behind. You’re probably either too wealthy, too blinded by your love of young hack MAGA judges or too otherwise invested in the status quo to ever seriously think about the issues that impeachment would address. Bonus: “Let the people decide” is bullshit because the very thing Trump is accused of — fucking with the election — is something he’s going to do again anyway if he’s a free man and at least he should suffer some political consequences for doing it.
The Whistleblower Is A Partisan Hack We’re likely to see this more very soon. This defense is that essentially, only a completely objective person can get you in trouble. If anyone with ANY sort of disagreement with you on a political level has evidence you committed a crime, lulz.
Response This is something that is so passionately stated and yet so poorly thought out that it can take you aback. This is a strained attempt to muddy the waters between the rule of law and the laws of politics. Also, Bill Clinton was impeached in large part because of a partisan political trap sprung by Linda Tripp, Lucianne Goldberg and Matt Drudge. This is sort of the, “I’m not going to defend Trump, but attack the person who caught him” defense. I can only suggest you stay calm and somehow get the person to agree with you before hand that the rule of law is meant for everyone. They are likely to say Hillary Clinton should have been indicted. You have to remind them that not only did the Justice Department find she did nothing wrong with her emails, but that she’s not the issue at the moment, Trump is. This can lead to you going in circles because, well, you’re probably not talking to someone discussing this issue in good faith.
The Brit Hume Defense Hume — and the editors of The Wall Street Journal — believe something along the lines of since Trump didn’t actually get the dirt on Biden, lulz.
Response That otherwise cognizant, cogent and intelligent people would prostrate themselves in front of the Orange Caff of Trump in such a brazenly bad argument is pretty spectacular. This defense is a desperation-is-setting in defense. This is the defense of people who have gotten a little cocky after the “bad optics” of Mueller’s testimony to Congress got their man off politically….only so he could turn around and do it all over again. It’s a bad defense because the ask, itself, is a crime. It doesn’t matter if he got what he wanted. And, really, do you want a person like Trump as president if he does such a thing? (Of course they do, they are getting tax breaks and young hack judges on the Federal bench for life. Lulz!)
The Nancy Pelosi Should Not Be President Defense I struggle to figure out what’s going on with this one. The argument is that Nancy Pelosi has too much of a vested interest in Trump being forced out of office and so, lulz, the whole thing is invalid, why are we talking about it.
Response Mike Pence has a lot more on the line with impeachment than Nancy Pelosi. Why would people assume that simply because impeachment would make her one heartbeat closer to the presidency that, in real terms, she has a vested interest in Trump leaving office? Pence isn’t going anywhere and it would be he — not Pelosi — who named his veep successor. This one is pretty textbook misogyny in my book.
We live in interesting times. One of the two major political parties in the United State has completely, totally lost its fucking mind. It no longer believes in liberal democracy, it no longer cares about civil society and its entire existence serves to enable the whims of one man — Donald J. Fucking Trump.
There’s a lot to unpack here, to say the least.
It used to be that go-to crazytrain thing to say was this or that Obama “scandal” was “bigger than Watergate.” This was useful in two ways. One ti signaled to the base that this was, to their thought leaders, important. Second, it made it so when people like, say, ME, started talking about something being “bigger than Watergate” on the Republican side, the average Fox News Boomer Viewer would lulz it.
Now, we have the impeachment clusterfuck. Trump did Big Boy crimes. A lot of MAGA people willfully conflate a general lack of political will to do anything about Trump’s many, many, many crimes with some sort of “innocence” on his part. At least, that’s what they say to themselves to let them sleep at night.
Republican thought leaders have a new tactic. They try to impress upon the base how absolutely serious this situation is by ranting about “civil war,”and “a coup.” This is a multi-layered strategy. On one hand it conveys how serious this is and makes old people take notice. It also is kind of FUD against the opposition — if you don’t stop fucking with Der Fuhrer, we’re going to start killing people. It also, in a down low way, opens the door to actual violence that they can both dismiss as just a crazy person’s mental instability and use as a potential messaging bludgeon to end the impeachment process full stop.
I generally feel this is a very dangerous game to play. It might make them feel good to “own the libs” this way, but when actual human beings die because of insane Republican talking points, the reaction on the part of the otherwise apathetic American populace may not be optimal for Trump’s long-term political future.
The sooner we understand that Republicans are old-school fascists and treat them as such, the sooner we take the stakes of the impeachment process as serious as they deserve. The long term prospects for liberal democracy in America are pretty dark. But for the sake of history, I’d at least like us to go down fighting on a political level.
About 240 years of freedom at least deserve that much.
The thing about Mueller’s testimony to Congress being such a dud is both sides learned the wrong lesson. House Trump got cocky. They thought they could begin the second, more sinister phase of Trumplandia without anyone doing anything about it. The Trump opposition, meanwhile, began to think Trump was simply a political force of nature that they could never defeat.
But, guess what — Trump is a self-own artist.
It’s darkly humorous how eager Maggie Haberman of The New York Times is to say in a quiet, droll tone how Trump is using his native Leadership Principle abilities to subtly influence various portions of the electorate with his political genius.
This, of course, is complete and total horseshit. Trump’s a barely functioning human being much less some sort of modern day Machiavelli. What Trump is, is very, very lucky. Someone like Trump was bound to pop up at some point between 2016 and 2024, it was just a matter of whom. And, really, I grow ever more concerned about who will be Trump’s fascist successor than I am he himself — not that he’s not an autocrat wannabe. As Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare once quipped, “Trump’s malevolence is only mitigated by his incompetence.” Or something along those lines.
In other words, Trump’s nothing more than a deranged version of Being There’s Chauncey Gardner. That’s it. That’s all that’s going on. This brings us to some potential gotterdammerung impeachment strategies on the part of House Trump. I see these likely happening for no other reason than Trump is hysterical the thought of simply being impeached. When he faces a trial in the Senate, his mental state is likely to explode, not implode. We may face weeks of a demonstrable insane person running the government until the painfully slow wheels of government get around to convicting Trump — not really on the matter at hand, buth is extremely unstable mental state. (The 25th Amendment is a dead letter for the time being.)
Anyway, one of these potential gotterdammerung impeachment strategies is holding the government hostage. House could shut the government down and simply say, “You don’t get your government back until you end the impeachment process.”
This will, for about 24 hours, dominate the impeachment narrative. Maggie Haberman will coo at Trump’s political genius. The MAGA talking heads of FOX will huzzah. And, honestly, it might work given how fucked up the world is right now.
But it might not.
As it sinks in to the average person what is going on, there’s a decent chance this won’t slow impeachment down at all. It will, in fact, only heighten the sense of urgency and build pressure for conviction. This would go with my general belief that if Trump is convicted, it won’t even be because of the actual politics of what he’s accused of doing — it will be his complete and total mishandling of House Trump’s reacting to the impeachment process.
Another, more ominous, potential gotterdammerung impeachment strategy is Trump becomes transactional in his Twitter offenses. He starts to tell people what he wants them to do, in other words. He doxes the Whistleblower and “jokingly” tells people to “teach him a lesson.” Or a few carbomb’s explode in New York City with pro-Trump people claiming credit. Again, initially, things will be on House Trump’s side because generally a lot of people do not want Trump to be convicted. A lot of very powerful people — on both sides of the political spectrum — have a vested interest in Trumplandia lasting a full eight years.
There’s also a good chance that once the shot wears off, the average American who to date has been pretty blase about impeachment will freak the fuck out. This is yet ANOTHER example of how Trump is not what Maggie Haberman would have you believe — Trump’s political firebreak is apathy. If people start dying in some last-gasp gotterdammerung impeachment strategy on the part of rabid Republicans, there’s a pretty good chance the average moderate American might stop thinking about raising their kids and paying their mortgage long enough to demand Trump be convicted by the Senate as soon as fucking possible.
I would say the most important thing to remember is the country can not withstand this much political turmoil without something really fucking bad happening. I simply can’t case out the endgame right now. And whatever the endgame is, we’re in a new political era. We will no longer be in the post-9/11 Era, we will be in either the American Carnage Era or the Post-Trump Era.
I’m reluctant to give too much weight to anecdotal evidence that supports my personal political agenda. Confirmation bias is a real problem in The Age Of Trump. But no one really reads this blog in real terms, so I’ll indulge myself a minor flight of fancy.
Let me set the scene — I was getting wasted at this “secret” bar near my current abode when I found myself talking to a Judge Jeanine Pirro devotee. She was hard core. She was a little older than me but she was definitely the type of person Maggie Haberman would fall over herself to talk to– a middle-aged female Trump supporter. In fact, I said that to her. I made it very clear that there were people at The New York Times who would just love, love, love to talk to her about why she continued to support Trump.
Anyway, things went well — for a while. Once we established that NO ONE was above the law, things quickly went haywire. She wanted to talk about “Crooked Hillary.” Once I agreed with her that I thought that in 2016 the case could be made that Clinton could have been indicted things quickly went haywire. She would not admit that if I agreed to Clinton falling under the rule of law that Trump, too, had to fall under the same rules.
She just could not process the truth bombs I began to drop on her. The moment I mentioned “Individual #1” she started to shut down. Once it dawned on her that I had a rhetorical counter attack for each of her talking points she just locked up.
Soon enough, she bounced. She just left the bar.
And, so, I would say THAT is the source of the current Republican panic we see in Washington. While I generally believe the Republican Party is a criminal and fascistic organization at its core, when the common folk who support Trump don’t have a ready answer to criticism of Trump that’s a pretty big problem.
I have no doubt that Republicans are willing to ultimately defend the absolutely indefensible. They are completely unmoored from the norms of liberal democracy. “Democracy” exists only as a means to an end — that being more power for them. They are ready to ride the MAGA pony down to a Singularity of corruption, abuse of power and tyranny. In the end it won’t be politics that fells Trump, it will be Trump himself.
I still think Trump’s going to mentally explode. We’re going to have an actual mad man president for a few weeks, maybe more as we sort the situation out.
In other words, whatever your worst case scenario is at this point, that’s pretty much what’s going to happen. Buckle up.
Republicans are just about at the tipping point where they see what’s going on with Trump as an existential threat. Almost. They haven’t quite gotten to the point where they are willing to cane people on the Senate floor, but they’re getting there.
So, in a sense, the flop sweat is about to kick in with Republicans who realize they have a very weak hand at this point. They are going to do everything in their power to gummy up the work of the impeachment process. They will lie. They will cheat. They will intimidate. I would be prepared to suggest that these tactics will work in the end but for one thing — Donald Trump.
Though Trump is finally beginning to realize the existential nature of what’s going on, he’s still reasonable cogent. And he hasn’t gone transactional with his abuses on Twitter. I used to think Trump would implode on a cognitive level and some sort of Regency might be established in private. Now, I think he will EXPLODE in a very public manner and Republicans will continue to kowtow to Trump’s every whim.
Trump will suggest MAGA take up arms against “the enemy of the people” Press or House Democrats, or whomever. He might even dangle pardons to people willing to use their precious AR-15s to make it clear they don’t want Trump to go anywhere. We’ve gotten to the point where there’s a real chance that while the MAGA base of about 35% will feel quite content with all of this the rest of the electorate — and I mean EVERYONE ELSE — will be so full of rage over actual physical harm being inflicted because of a defense of Trump that we may see some rather surreal things begin to happen. More so than we already have.
There may come a point where Republican talking heads defend murder in the name of Trump. They won’t say that, of course. What they’ll say is obviously the “optics” of hundreds of people being slain by a crazed MAGA person with a AR-15 are so bad that we should stop impeachment and “let the people decide” in 2020. Meanwhile, Trump will have finally snapped to such an extent that a lot of people will begin thinking about his continued possession of the nuclear codes.
This is a different type of crisis from the 2000 post-election debacle. This is a hot crisis. You can feel the tension in the country building to something. Something big. What that might be, I don’t know. But I do believe something spectacular is going to happen in the guise of MAGA’s final attempt to save Trump’s presidency. Something jaw-dropping that it will equal 9/11 in its historical significance. I hope what I fear will happen won’t happen.
I’ve seen some talk on Twitter about how Nancy Pelosi was “right” and huzzah, leave it to a woman to save the day. While I do believe she’s the right leader for the moment I call bullshit on any notion she right to be so extremely reluctant to give the pre-whistleblower impeachment cause any support.
By the time Trump got his political pardon when Chris Wallace bemoaned the “poor optics” of Mueller’s testimony to Congress in the summer, there was a very, very strong case for impeachment. Politically what was needed was Pelosi to rally the troops and lay out the case to the American public. No one had any idea — especially her — that Trump would take his “pardon” as a gimme to do the exact same thing all over again.
Even then, there were unprecedented obstacles to the whistleblower’s effort to get the authorities to look into the situation in the first place. So, in a sense, it all came down to Trump’s vainglorious behavior and dumb luck. Pelosi is not a mindreader and she’s not a clairvoyant. She could have even have had a very good read on Trump and STILL not be in the right to risk the fate of the entire country on her “hunch” that Trump would self-own. I just am not willing to give that to her. She was wrong, in that sense. At least in my opinion.
Or, put another way, I’m willing to give her supporters the facts that support their case. But my interpretation of those facts is dramatically different. That says more about my personal relationship to power than anything else. I just don’t believe in any form of blind faith. To say Pelosi “knew stuff” is the liberal version of MAGA cult blind-faith in Trump. She didn’t know jack shit.
She was very lucky –very, very lucky. But now that she’s won the historical lottery she is, in fact, just the leader we need to expunge Trump from our political system. Hopefully.
Comparing Trump to Hitler is something I have done a lot of in the past, but let’s look not at his policies, but Trump the tactician. It’s eerie how well one could overlay the progress of Hitler’s career in Europe over that of Trump’s political career to date.
Hitler believed in the “leadership principle.” He thought as leader he had a near God-like ability to lead the Fatherland to his dystopian vision of Europe free of Jews, Bolsheviks and Slavs. The Arans would turn Pols and the French into little more than slave labor. Most of Russia west of the Urals would be repopulated with the Master Race.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves a little bit. Hitler was not insane. He was a very evil person, but he was not insane — which makes him worse. He was very lucky, too. His biggest mistakes were not really strategy, but bending the needs of the war effort to those of his own ideological desires. It was his invasion of the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa, that was his downfall. He could have gone south east through Turkey into the oil fields of the Middle East and into India. But his kooky ideas about the Jewish-Bolsheviks of the Soviet Union forced his hand in a pretty astonishing fashion.
Now, let’s look at Trump. The interesting thing is Trump is a moron. He’s simply a symptom of some fundimental rot in the American political system. So, you could say that his victory in 2016 was almost like Hitler’s surprise victory over the French in 1940. So, for the last few years, Trump has dominated America much like Hitler did Europe after the fall of the French Third Republic.
This grows even more interesting when you realize that while Hitler had his craven desire to murder people for ideological reasons as an existential flaw, with Trump it’s cheating to win. Combine his stupidity and cluelessness with a deranged 2-year-old’s need to win at any cost and, well, you have him calling up the president of Ukraine 24 hours after Chris Wallace gave him a political pardon after the “bad optics” of Mueller’s testimony.
So, while it’s definitely an extended metaphor, you could argue that the Constitution itself may be Trump’s Russia. It’s not kids in cages. It’s not the 12,000 lies. It’s not the harsh and cruel policies that Trump loves, loves, loves. It’s Trump himself. It’s Trump’s complete inability to uphold his oath of office. His complete, criminal inability to “grow into the office” that might, just might, be his downfall.
And with that, we reach the final question of this gratuitously extended metaphor — what will be Trump’s Stalingrad? What will be the final thing to break his iron hold on the cult that was formerly known as the Republican Party?
Well, as of right now, it doesn’t look like that is ever going to happen. Moscow Mitch will have a 20 minute trial, the Republican line will hold in the Senate and I find myself in a re-education camp just about the time I had hoped to try to sell my spec novel.
But Stalingrad did, in fact, happen. So there’s … hope? All I can think of is Trump again owns himself. But this time he loses his mind. He finally snaps. He goes completely bonkers to such an extent that the normal laws of American politics begin to finally, finally snap back into place. Or maybe after weeks of enormous revelations as part of the House’s impeachment proceedings the sheer absolute pressure of the rage of 60+% of the electorate is enough to wipe the perpetual smug grin off Moscow Mitch’s face.
I just don’t know. I’m not prepared to predict the endgame, either way. All I can say is, though, if we can’t convict Trump in the Senate then that’s all she wrote. Start making contingency plans for hiding in people’s attics if you aren’t MAGA.
Would be pretty funny, though, if both Hitler and Trump were brought down because of shenanigans in the general Ukraine area.