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.