Establishment One; Trump Zero

Trump’s second major defeat

As I write, Trump seems headed for his second goose egg. The only question is which of his agenda items will fail next?

Going by the never-ending media frenzy, Defeat Number Two ought to be his latest attempt to bypass the Constitution with a slightly re-written Muslim, I mean “immigration” ban. But the court battle over the revised executive order is likely to still be unresolved well into the summer months, so the highly probable rejection of his Muslim ban will probably be Trumpfail number three, or even four.

The most satisfying next Trump clown car wreck would of course be the collapse of his much ballyhooed Wall. Satisfying, that is, for the majority of American voters, who voted against him last November. But again, time is already against the moment when we can savor his rage as his Wall disappears into the north Mexican desert sands. Congress is already playing it’s classic delaying game, wrestling how to slow if not altogether stop its wasteful, foolish construction. We all, even Trump, know that the Mexicans won’t pay for it, and we’re quickly learning that the US Congress won’t, either. Trump’s only hope to get a win on this most-repeated campaign promise is to borrow twenty-five billion dollars from his Russian gangsta buddies.

Meaning the end of April vote on funding the government, which has to happen, whether Trump is too busy playing golf at Mar-A-Lago or not, is shaping up to be his second major fail. No, it’s technically not the defeat of one of his absurd agenda items; it’s simply a requirement of the law, and every Administration has to cajole the Congressional factions to go along with raising the debt ceiling (again), or see their entire program placed at risk.

Now, I’m sure the Democrats would love to join with the so-called Freedom Caucus and help shut down this sorry excuse for a national government, but they may not be able to: At his present rate of bumbling, unforced errors, laziness, poor communications, and ill-considered policy fails, there’s a good chance that Trump and his corrupt cronies will succeed in closing the Administration doors before the Dems even get the chance to vote in late April.

Adding these three defeats to his TrumpCare fiasco, I predict a score of four for the combined “establishment” to zero for the Trump/Bannon goon squad going into the fall.

Trumpfollypaloozer votes five, six and seven

His golfing, I mean Presidential scorecard looks to get even worse, as we near the end of his first year in office.

The Budget is another example of an allegedly joint Ryan-Trump plan that is so far from being acceptable to his Party, and to almost all Americans, as to be dead in the taco bowl. If by some miracle Ryan and McConnell can get it passed and on Trump’s fake desk in Mar-A-Lago, they’ll be handing the Democrats a long list of killer issues for the 2018 races.

Tax reform is another likely loosing cause for Trump and Ryan, and another huge win for the middle and poor classes. It’s even more messy: Trump and Ryan now seem sure to lock horns over the bill, meaning it will again be easy for the factions in the Republican Party to take opposite sides over just what “reform” means, and just how much the One Percent and the One-tenth of One Percent will be allowed to steal from the federal government. Their differences on Ryan’s dream proposal have so far been papered over, with most of the details that will be in Ryan’s plan kept in the dirty darkness of the Republican caucus rooms until the last minute.

Leaving us with the ghost-like “infrastructure bill”. At this point, Trump and Ryan are so far apart on what that means, and both are so far apart from anything the Democrats and Freedom Caucus would even vote for it’s safe to say this item is never going to see the light of day this year, or maybe ever, so long as the Republicans rule the Congress.

But can a proposal that never gets a vote be fairly counted as another loss for the oaf in the White House?

Yes, because he promised it as a condition of being elected.

Yes, because the only serious hope for all those “good jobs” Trump has promised, and still promises, would come from a well-constructed national program to rebuild our creaky, crumbling country.

And yes, because Trump’s first and massive defeat counts, even though the chicken-hearted Republicans did not allow a vote to happen.

The likely score, come December?

Establishment forces seven; Trump nothing.

“Originalism” is just another word for “Obstructionism”

As the Senate plods toward the seemingly inevitable appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the SCOTUS, your Truthteller restrains himself from screaming how I predicted this was going to happen if Trump won the election. No point in that sort of drama, now.

Nor would there be any value in belaboring the truth how President Obama and the American people were robbed of a SCOTUS appointment for a solid year by McConnell and his Republican cronies. Yes, the Republicans should have held hearings on Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination. But no, it was not inevitable that he would have been confirmed; the Senate (and country) is now so polarized that it’s highly unlikely any Democratic nominee would be approved, even such a middle-of-the-roader like Garland.

Instead, we face the prospect of seeing the conservative Gorsuch fill the chair occupied by Antonin Scalia. Scalia was a terrible Justice from a Progressive point of view. And by several accounts, Gorsuch can be expected to be even more to the right than Scalia, especially in cases involving large corporate plaintiffs and defendants.

None of this is news to any Progressive familiar with the events following President Obama’s nomination of Judge Garland. Nor are we surprised any more by the near-universal praise of Scalia as a paragon among Justices. Nor have we allowed the often-endearing tales of his out-of-Court behavior to make us forget the hard, historical truth: Scalia’s tenure was disastrous for the future of our democracy. Anyone who needs to read the evidence can Google his record.

What is less understood is the debate about Scalia’s judicial “Originalism”, and the sub-arguments of just how “pure” an Originalist he was.

The judicial theory of Constitutional “Originalism” holds that the primary job of the SCOTUS is to ensure that the final decision in cases adheres to a reading of the USCon where the (imagined) “original intent” of the Founders takes precedence over any other decision-criteria of the Justices. In a word, according to the so-called Originalists, all SCOTUS decisions need to remain forever and rigidly in sync with the original intentions of the rich white men who wrote our Constitution.

Yes, I know. The whole notion that this theory of SCOTUS “justice”, and only this theory, is the only acceptable guideline for making final decisions on our laws is, sorry Conservative flyweights, crazy. If I must, I’ll try to explain why in one or, very likely more than one, future post. I don’t look forward to the task, nor should you, dear reader.

What concerns us now, as the confirmation of Gorsuch marches forward, is how this esoteric discussion of what we used to call “Strict Constructionism” has become the favorite topic among the TV talking heads and the pundit class. In a few words, the perceived issues may be summarized as follows:

  • Scalia was the most Originalist Justice in recent decades
  • Gorsuch is (probably) going to take the Scalia chair
  • Will Gorsuch be more, or less of an Origanalist then was Scalia?
Notice: no one seems to be asking the much more important question, namely, to what degree will this new Justice continue the recent SCOTUS trends of ruling against citizens in favor of corporate interests and undermining voting rights?

Instead of debating Gorsuch’s conservatism versus Scalia’s, commentators need to be reminding us that the real impact of “Originalism” is to serve as a further block of the movement toward a more progressive, just, informed society.

Instead of accepting the stupid, even evil idea that the USCon is somehow magically the best guideline for judging public policy going forward, our leading thinkers should be exploring the many ways in which the Constitution is obsolete.

Whose health?

The now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t Official Trumped-up Republican approach to “fixing” health care would be just another Trump policy disaster in the making if it were not so nefarious.

The primary reasons the Repubs have been trying to repeal Obamacare for 7 years are to:

  • Kill the special taxes on the wealthy that were “bundled” with the ACA to pay for it — “repeal” means a huge tax break for the 1%, and a monstrous tax break for the richest 1/10th of the 1%
  • Put the health insurance industry back in control of all non-Medicare health insurance
  • Severely cut Medicaid over time
  • Force hospitals and state governments to pay for the huge increase in medical expenses that will result once Obamacare is dead, and no longer covers some 20 million working class, poor seniors, and single moms.
The Republican alliance of big business, right-wing Christians, and self-styled fiscal conservatives is, as always, mouthing about their faux “principles” while redistributing wealth and income upward.

Do the whites who run things give a crap about the poor, the working poor, students, and seniors? Of course not, and why should they — these impoverished groups will not vote to stop Ryan and Trump and the Koch Brothers.

So long as roughly 45% of voters refuse to go to the polls, and the Democratic Party continues to focus on the demographics of the future, we will have a society where 20% has all the privileges and 80% is stuck with the pain.

Reality Check #4 — Trump isn’t the problem…

…just as he clearly isn’t the solution. But hoping against hope for his impeachment is foolish. Impeachment would see Trump replaced by Pence. People should realize Pence accepted the VP slot in hopes of advancing his rabidly retrogressive agenda of far-right religious measures to turn this country into a White-dominated Christian Nation. The media and Dems are obsessed with Trump/Bannon drama, incompetence, and anti-American Executive Orders, but the real drama and conflict is between the mentally unfit President and his overweight Rasputin whisperer, and the Republican Congress, led by its triumvirate of reactionary co-conspirators: Pence, Ryan, and McConnell.

The Republicans are the real pro-White Nationalist faction, have been for the past forty years and longer; Bannon is just an opportunistic latecomer. With their jumbled, now you see it, now you don’t agenda, Trump/Bannon are standing in the way of the corporate-controlled, rightist Congress. The 2017 Republican legislative juggernaut is assembling, only held up by their healthcare ineptitude. But the crunch is coming, and when it does, Pence, not Trump, will have the backing of Congress.

Will Trump sign the Ryan bills? If he does not, he’ll become billionaire road kill.

As argued in my previous post, Pence and his pro-business, pro-White Nationalist allies will use Trump’s mental instability and inability to govern as grounds for a 25th Amendment-sanctioned coup, and toss him and his reality TV clowns out of power and into the oncoming traffic of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Understand this: the booting of Trump and his odious family and swamp bottom feeding toadies will not be the day America is saved. It will be the day most women, union members, African-Americans, Latinos, working class people of all colors, students, LGBT persons, and especially, climate change activists come to call “the day the U.S. Constitution committed suicide.”

Taking Trump down

There is much discussion among the Democratic and Progressive political pros regarding the best strategy for blocking Trump, and making him even more unpopular. Make Trump toxic enough, the idea goes, and then maybe the Dems can retake control of the House in 2018, even while (probably) losing seats in the Senate.

IMO much of this discussion is absurdly irrelevant. I’ve said so, today, in this post to PoliticalWire.com:

The first priority for the Democrats is not to “take Trump down”. The immediate priority is to help the liberals, progressives, independents and Party democrats solidify the organic Resistance into a permanent foundational force. This cannot be a Democratic Party organization; the Party has lost all credibility with most of those it needs to regain Congressional power.

The Party needs to bring youthful energy into its leadership, and put all its resources into the hundreds of attempts to disrupt and delay a Congress whose leadership and right-wing faction is bent on the destruction of civil rights and the national re-establishment of unbridled White and Corporate Power.

As for Trump, the threat to our country is not a mad would-be King, but the Rasputin who’s whispering chaos in his ear. Sooner (I predict) rather than later Bannon and his anti-Constitutional faction will overstep the end of a bridge already too far.

When that happens, Pence will collect a majority of the Cabinet, cite the 25th Amendment, and assume the Presidency. After a lengthy fight, he will prevail, and this present awful excuse of a President will resign.

Leaving us with an awful 46th President, a religious fanatic who will help Ryan enact his entire agenda, probably before the 2018 Congressional election.

The most vexing question therefore, fellow progressives, is not when or how Trump can be toppled, but what happens when the Toppler-in-Chief takes over America’s destiny.

Reality Check #3 — A President who is not “Presidential”

Time to wake up, all you pundits and media types, all you Liberals, along with the few Republicans who have not yet sold their political soul to the TV President:

Trump is not going to change.

He will not suddenly morph into a reasonable, dignified, conscientious, thoughtful person, not now, not in his first 100 days, not this year, not ever. Reason, dignity, conscientiousness, rational analysis, concern for others, tolerance for the views of all Americans; all these are simply missing from the Trump TV Klown Kit of tricks, pranks, lies and scams, just as they are missing from the Twitterverse, his chosen communications medium.

Commentators who insist that he “must” stop Tweeting, or “must” listen to the National Security professionals, or “must” get real about foreign policy, or “must” act like a responsible adult may as well be asking a pig to blast out perfumed farts. Pompous experts who warn that Trump will lose his supporters unless he starts acting like a President instead of a spoiled rich adolescent are making the error of assuming that Trump cares — not just about his supporters, but about anything or anyone more than roughly two feet away from him at any given moment, anything outside of groping range of his small hands, in short.

Those who chastise him for stupidly alienating foreign leaders and whole countries and entire cultures don’t get that Trump simply doesn’t know how to deal with our allies (or enemies): his ignorance of foreign affairs, international economics, and human history is bigly. And even if he could be convinced the values, experience, opinions and goals of those in other lands were important, he’d be incapable of saying so in any way that didn’t first demean them.

Those who waste breath bewailing his inability to make a cogent sentence, or express a clear policy, even a bad one, miss the key point: he cannot understand any reality that requires explanation in more than a few short sentences at the 6th grade reading level. He doesn’t prefer watching TV to reading heavy reports and serious analyses and, especially, books, because the TV images are bright and shiny, and allow his juvenile attention span to wander: he doesn’t read books because he cannot understand their contents.

But it’s worse than an absence of literacy and mature intelligence. Trump doesn’t like serious books because he has no earthly idea why anyone would bother writing one. He has no respect for authors or scholars or analysts who spend months or years working to understand issues and problems, then more months writing down their suggestions how to deal with them. Why, Trump seems to think, can’t they just go on TV and spit out their ivory tower, fake news crap in three minutes?

If he cannot or will not read, why would he see any reason to learn how to make a meaningful paragraph? Much easier to simply make stuff up and then shout it like a twelve year old schoolyard bully at a hall full of people who are at approximately the same intellectual level. No wonder he cannot make a real speech, and has no respect for those who can.

The problem isn’t his pussy-grasping small hands; it’s his small brain, incapable of grasping large ideas.

Reality Check #2 — The (so-called) President is not intelligent enough to be President — Part Two

In the previous post, your Truthteller outlined several major indicators of Trump’s lack of a functioning intelligence. By “functioning intelligence”, we mean the intelligence needed to perform as an executive. The executive in charge of our national government, namely the President, requires a “functioning intelligence” capable of managing far more than, say, the global enterprise managed, for example, a CEO like Rex Tillerson.

After less than one month of a Trump-misled administration, we have enough data to conclude that Donald Trump is demonstrably incapable of doing the job less than 25% of American citizens selected him for. A few examples:

  • Smart executives pick their deputies, senior managers, and advisors carefully, based on their proven successful experience, and on the size of their brains, not on the size of their bank accounts, or their “loyalty”
  • Smart executives who publish “Executive Orders” or similar directives actually read them before signing them in front of millions of citizens
  • Smart executives arrange “photo ops” after they have fulfilled a promised task, not when they are merely announcing it, and how “great” it will be whenever it’s done — correction, make that if ever it’s done
  • Smart executives don’t promise a vast project costing over ten billion dollars and then, without so much as an admission of inept accounting, quietly double the expected cost to over twenty billion a few weeks later
  • Smart executives don’t deny reality, period.

A smart executive in a public job has to pay special attention to the moods and sensitivities of their followers, along with those needed to build a broad consensus for governing.

Trump fails at these political, public relations tests for executive intelligence even more dismally than he flubs the daily demands of administration:

  • Smart people who hope to succeed in office don’t lie several times a week, nor are their lies so easily proven to be falsehoods
  • Smart people who dream of being re-elected don’t act like a fool, or a charlatan, or a con artist on a daily basis
  • Smart people do not attempt to communicate serious ideas and policies and strategies via social media
  • Smart people who expect to be respected by the people they hope to lead publish their tax returns
  • Smart people who expect to be respected by the people they hope to lead divest themselves of their assets when taking public office
  • Smart people who expect to govern don’t take every opportunity to destroy any possibility of earning a consensus upon which to build a governing coalition
  • Smart people who expect to be respected by the people they hope to lead don’t go out of their way to demean and denigrate whole swathes of people, in effect denying them any right to have any say in their governance.
How, many ask, can Trump continue to be so visibly, demonstrably, unstoppably stupid? How can he expect to lead the country?

The answer, fellow citizens, is he doesn’t. Trump is only interested in leading the 25% or so of Americans who voted for him. The rest of us can either get out of his way, or get rolled over by his destruction-bent mob.

For the present, all we can do is hope the military and security commanders surrounding this bloated disaster of a Chief Executive are prepared to perform an act of supreme patriotism should Trump’s stubby finger ever get close to launching a nuclear first strike, and arrest the mad, mentally dangerous, would-be warmonger on the spot.

Reality Check #2 — The (so-called) President is not intelligent enough to be President — Part One

Now, don’t get me wrong: Donald J Trump may well have enough brains to inherit two hundred million dollars and then hire much smarter real estate experts and accountants to run that huge inheritance into a billion dollar fortune. But that kind of greed-driven record of accumulation does not qualify him to be President.

And, yes, he has enough shrewdness to get out of bad deals by using clever lawyers, and bad investments by declaring bankruptcy, and failed marriages by paying off the spouse after blaming her for all his failures and deficiencies. But that kind of so-called brains do not qualify him to sit in our Oval Office and run the country.

And there’s no denying Trump has the con man’s gift of telling ignorant people what they want to hear, even if he has to invent a fake reality and non-facts and falsified data to convince them. Lying one’s way into the White House takes a certain kind of intelligence, true, but not the kind most folks want sitting next to the nuclear launch codes.

It’s our country, not a sandbox or middle school playground for Trump to strut like an adolescent bully, threatening and vilifying the rest of us. He doesn’t own the real estate title to our White House.

We have every right to expect either of the political parties to put forward men or women with seriously proven intelligence, especially after the disastrous tenure of Bush 43. We’re only interested in a candidate’s brainpower to perform acceptably as President of the United States, not as a “successful” business scamster.

Trump doesn’t have it.

We don’t need an intelligence test or neurological exam to conclude that Trump is borderline stupid. All we need do is list a dozen or so demonstrated proofs of his mental defectiveness.

Let’s begin with the basics:

  • Intelligent people who assume national leadership responsibility read; they don’t watch TV
  • Intelligent people who assume national leadership responsibility prepare themselves by learning the facts about all the major issues confronting the nation
  • Intelligent people who assume national leadership responsibility don’t begin their administration by denying an entire globe-full of facts and truths, from climate change to economic growth to public safety
  • Intelligent people who assume national leadership responsibility do not give credence to far-right racist, anti-feminist, anti-gay conspiracy theories — and no, sorry Bannon, there are not any such outrageous conspiracies on the left.
and, possibly most basic of all:

  • Intelligent people who assume national leadership responsibility and¬†expect to be taken seriously as leaders do not refer to themselves in the third person when making public comments or announcements.
When Trump goes on TV and says stuff like “Trump will never let you down”, or “Trump doesn’t settle lawsuits”, a psychologist might say he is projecting a kind of “imaginary self”, one that he hopes we’ll like and respect and follow with our mouths shut. Then, if our reaction is (in his distorted, paranoid view) “negative”, he can pretend that that imaginary Trump he talked about was just a figment of his imagination, and ignore what claims he allegedly made.

There’s much, much more evidence of Trump’s lack of intellectual competence and maturity to be our President. We’ll tackle it in a follow-up post.

Assuming we’re all still here to share it.

Trump loss number eight

Last night, the Court of Appeals delivered a stunning defeat to our would-be President. The court rejected his appeal to reinstate the ill-conceived, disastrously stupid Executive Order of a week earlier restricting immigration to the U.S. I make this the eighth major defeat of Trump since he barely won the Electoral Vote on November eighth by a few thousand votes in three swing states.

After that near-loss, he has suffered a string of major defeats leading up to the huge setback last night:

  • He lost the national popular vote to Clinton – nearly three million more citizens voted for her than him
  • He lost the opportunity to demonstrate his much-vaunted and bragged about “executive skills” by muddling through the worst-managed transition period in modern American history
  • He lost the chance to persuade us he can really be our President by not reaching out to the 75% of Americans who did not vote for him
  • He lost his credibility as a national leader by delivering the worst Inaugural Address in recent memory
  • He lost the Inaugural Weekend popularity contest, a contest important only to him and his colossally defensive, paranoid ego,¬†lost the crowd count, in other words, first to outgoing President Obama, then to millions of, horrors, women, girls, fathers, brothers opposed to his very occupation of the Oval Office
  • He lost his battle with the press, who, finally, are calling his purposeful distortions lies
  • He lost his chance to appear “Presidential” with tweet after tweet, staged event after staged event, and the undignified presentation of his nominee for the stolen Supreme Court vacancy.

And now, this slap in his puffy, pasty face by the Court of Appeals.

Every day we awaken to Trump’s occupation of our White House will be a bad day for our country, or for some targeted minority of its residents; we need to accept this.

But every day we can inflict another loss to his easily wounded, thoughtlessly reactive, emotionally unstable persona, or to his ignorance-based, hopelessly jumbled agenda is also a good day, and not just for us — as with the rejection of his Executive Order, for the entire planet.

Until we can defeat him and his Republican toadies and co-conspirators at the polls, the ruling and the week of massive protest before it should motivate us to keep the pressure on. Yes, right should in time prevail over might. But we (and the planet) don’t have much time. Between now and November 2018, we need to collectively make sure that as bad as waking up to Trump in the White House is for us, for him it is even worse.