Trump is a typical Republican with traditional 21st C.E. Republican goals, part the 346,212,518th…
Mother Jones reports:
Trump’s $4.8 trillion budget calls for steep cuts to welfare programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly known as food stamps) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the biggest cash assistance program.
The proposal calls for slashing SNAP funding by $182 billion over the next 10 years, a sharp reduction from the $58 billion the government spent on SNAP in 2019. Partly, those savings would come from significantly tightening eligibility requirements for SNAP. Currently, able-bodied SNAP recipients between the ages of 18 and 49 can receive food stamps for three months at a time and must prove that they are working at least 20 hours a week. The Trump budget calls for extending the work requirement rule to people up to the age of 65.
Initially, states with high unemployment rates were allowed to apply for waivers that would exempt recipients from the three-month limit. But beginning April 1, a new federal rule makes acquiring those waivers much more difficult. The rule is expected to remove 700,000 people from the food stamp rolls.
Other welfare programs don’t fare much better in Trump’s budget proposal. It would cut $15 billion from TANF over the next decade. The cash assistance program currently grants $16.5 billion annually, a level advocates say is insufficient to meet the needs of poor families because it has not increased since 1996.
The total cuts to welfare programs for the next decade come out to $292 billion. While the budget slashes countless programs that help the poor, it would increase military spending.
Yeah, a wealthy country like ours would rather purchase new aircraft carriers for an unknown enemy rather than let kids have enough to eat. If Trump and his cult have there way, that is. Luckily 2018 happened, and the Democrats can reign in some of this cruelty, if they want to. There are some corporate Democrats who are wishy-washy about the so-called entitlements, and would also prefer the military budget increase.
Just like that, at precisely 11 p.m. on Thursday, minutes after the end of the ninth day of the Senate trial of Donald John Trump, Senator Lamar Alexander ended it. In a statement tweeted out by his office, the Tennessee Republican said that the President was guilty of “inappropriate” pressure on Ukraine in the service of his own reëlection. The House Democrats managing the case had “proven” it, but that was not enough to impeach and remove Trump from office. Nor was it enough to continue the trial, Alexander said. He would not support calling witnesses. He would not support any effort to obtain further evidence. He did not want to hear even from John Bolton, the former Trump national-security adviser who is prepared to testify that the President directly admitted to the central allegation in the impeachment case. Without Alexander’s support, the trial almost certainly cannot continue. Democrats do not have the fifty-one votes they need to call witnesses, and so, sometime on Friday or early Saturday, the third Presidential-impeachment trial in American history is virtually certain to reach its preordained conclusion: a partisan acquittal by the Republican-controlled Senate, following a partisan impeachment by the Democratic-controlled House.
In the end, it’s no small irony that Trump was saved from embarrassing public testimony against him by one of the last representatives of the Republican establishment that so recently scorned him—and for which the President himself has nothing but scorn. Alexander declined to endorse Trump in 2016, and had previously bucked the President on trade, health care, and his much-vaunted border wall. But as Alexander retires later this year, after decades of service once characterized by bipartisanship, his most decisive final act will have been to do Trump an enormous favor. Alexander’s mentor in politics, Senator Howard Baker, is remembered as the Republican leader who pursued the facts about Richard Nixon during Watergate and demanded answers to the key question of what Nixon knew and when he knew it. Lamar Alexander will not have such an honor. He will go down in history as the Republican senator whose choice at a pivotal moment confirmed the complete and final capitulation of the G.O.P. to the crass New York interloper in the White House.
Alexander’s late-night statement was no real surprise. The “closest friend” to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—as McConnell made sure to point out to the Times, earlier this week—Alexander ended up where most Senate Republicans were always expected to end up. He criticized Trump but refused to vote to remove him from office. After making that decision, Alexander went a step further and said that there was no real need to hear any of the evidence that Trump has so far successfully ordered his Administration not to provide. Even the last-minute revelation, on Sunday night, in the Times, of Bolton’s unpublished manuscript, could not sway Alexander; he knew enough.
All fifteen previous impeachment trials in the U.S. Senate, including the two previous Presidential-impeachment trials, had witnesses. But Lamar Alexander has spoken. Donald Trump’s stonewalling will succeed where Nixon’s failed. Perhaps Alexander has done us all a favor: the trial that wasn’t really a trial will be over, and we will no longer have to listen to it. The Senate can stop pretending.
Sad day for our system of government, craven politicians choosing their own political party over the country they were elected to serve. The impeachment of Trump* was always going to fail, but the Republicans couldn’t even make a pretense of wanting a fair airing of evidence. Traitors to democracy, and to rule of law…
Frank Bruni of The New York Times, writes about a point that has irritated me for for a while, namely that Republicans shirk their duty to their constituents by claiming they can’t work in an election year:
Once the Senate concludes its trial of President Trump, it should go into recess. Until next January. The House, too. Lawmakers shouldn’t pass legislation, consider nominations or make any important decisions whatsoever: This is an election year, and the voters will soon weigh in on the direction of America. The nation’s business should await that judgment, lest members of Congress contradict it.
A ludicrous proposal? Indeed. But it’s in line with — and an extrapolation of — a favorite argument against Trump’s conviction and removal from office. His Republican supporters say that lawmakers shouldn’t speak for voters on such a crucial issue. To pre-empt the verdict at the ballot box, they say, is to subvert the people’s will.
Nice try. Lawmakers are elected specifically to speak for voters on crucial issues. That’s the system. That’s their job. American government doesn’t operate by daily, hourly or issue-by-issue polls (at least not overtly). Congress doesn’t have exponentially more power one week after Election Day than it does one year later (though it may indeed have more political currency).
Republicans have decided to sing a different tune. If it sounds familiar, that’s because they turned to the same music when the Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia died, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace him and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, declared that a presidential election about eight months in the offing prevented the Senate from taking any action. It was a song not of principle but of political convenience. The same holds true now.
the framers of the Constitution, who established the impeachment process to do essentially that and declined to add any asterisks about the next election’s imminence? “If the framers thought impeachment in an election year was a bad idea, they could have set things up differently,” noted Jill Lepore, a Harvard history professor and the author of the 2018 book “These Truths: A History of the United States.”
“They could have instituted a mechanism for an interim election, for instance,” Lepore told me. “They did not. They could have said, ‘Except not in an election year.’ They did not. You want there to be no impeachments allowed in an election year, ever? You have to get a constitutional amendment ratified.” And that would never happen, because it would be license for a president to do anything he or she wanted, fearlessly, if it synced with the calendar just so.
The next Democratic president ought to seriously consider packing the courts to make up for McConnell’s scheme to keep the Supreme Court with a conservative majority, and shorten the term of President Obama to 7 years.
Furthermore, as Mr. Bruni recounts, the voters did speak their mind about Trumpism – the 2018 election was a landslide for not-Trump!
What’s happening to Trump isn’t muscling voters out of the process but, rather, taking into account what voters recently did. “You only get an impeachment vote when people have changed their minds,” she [Alison LaCroix, a University of Chicago professor who teaches constitutional law and American history] said, referring to their opinions about a sitting president. “The votes comes from the House, and we know, from things like the midterm elections, that some amount of people have changed their minds. Another party has gained control of the House. That has to be telling us something.”
What a topsy-turvy world we live in, in recent months, I frequently read and agree with Jennifer Rubin, of The Washington Post, a sentence unthinkable before Trump* became Resident of the White House.
First, her succinct summary of the Democratic teams presentation:
House impeachment managers have demonstrated through a painstaking presentation of facts and law that: 1) President Trump wanted a foreign government to help him win reelection by announcing an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden; 2) there was no legitimate basis for such an investigation into the Bidens or the Crowdstrike conspiracy, as his own advisers admit, but served only Trump’s egotistical and political interests; 3) Trump ordered military aid held up in violation of law in an effort to pressure Ukraine and to the detriment of United States’ foreign policy; 4) His own officials knew this was wrong and began a coverup (e.g., moving the July transcript to a classified server); and 5) Trump refused to cooperate with the impeachment proceedings in any way, instructing administration officials to refuse to respond to any subpoenas without asserting executive privilege.
There is actually an obvious and possibly accurate defense that no Republican senator dare advance. It goes like this: The president has never understood that there is a difference between his political/personal interests and national security. Trump has a narcissistic personality so he cannot intentionally betray the country for his own benefit because he thinks they are one and the same. He is also highly ignorant and malleable, so he will believe any illogical conspiracy theory that Russian President Vladimir Putin advances and/or that serves his interests. No matter how many times he was told that Ukraine did not interfere with our election, or that aid to Ukraine was in the United States’ interest, or that he could not stop aid in violation of law, he could not mentally process such information. He believed that advisers who told him such things were weak or out to get him. In other words, Trump is so mentally and emotionally defective, he cannot understand the import of his actions or concepts such as right vs. wrong, true vs. false and personal vs. national interests. As for obstruction, his lawyer told him to refuse to give up anything, so he simply took that advice.
That might all be true. But, of course, it also posits that Trump is entirely unfit to carry out his job and lacks the capacity to adhere to an oath that requires him to put the nation’s interests above his own. It would mean Republicans are keeping in power and urging the reelection of a dangerous, unfit and deeply damaged personality because they are afraid of him or afraid of his base, which has imbibed the lies perpetrated by right-wing media.
Trump is only part of the current crisis, the other, deeper issue is that the Republican Party is filled with people who basically agree with nearly every action and word that Trump utters. They are not leaders, they cower at the thought of Trump sending a few grammatically challenged tweets in their direction.
The really depressing thing about the whole impeachment fiasco is that while the Democrats make a logical, detailed case that not impeaching Trump means the end of our Constitutional Democracy, the Republicans shrug, knowing they will vote to acquit anyway. Goodbye America, in other words.
Just days before a deadline to avert a partial government shutdown, President Trump, Democratic leaders and the Republican-controlled Congress are at a stalemate over the president’s treasured border wall. But House Republican leaders are also confronting a more mundane and awkward problem: Their vanquished and retiring members are sick and tired of Washington and don’t want to show up anymore to vote.
Call it the revenge of the lame ducks. Many lawmakers, relegated to cubicles as incoming members take their offices, have been skipping votes in the weeks since House Republicans were swept from power in the midterm elections, and Republican leaders are unsure whether they will ever return.
It is perhaps a fitting end to a Congress that has showcased the untidy politics of the Trump era: Even if the president ultimately embraces a solution that avoids a shutdown, House Republican leaders do not know whether they will have the votes to pass it.
The uncertainty does not end there. With funding for parts of the government like the Department of Homeland Security set to lapse at midnight on Friday, Mr. Trump and top Republicans appear to have no definite plan to keep the doors open. It is clear that as Democrats uniformly oppose the president’s demand for $5 billion for his border wall, any bill that includes that funding cannot pass the Senate, and might face defeat in the House, too.
But the odd lull with a shutdown looming was disturbing to some senators. “I don’t understand why people don’t come to work and work all the way through December when the taxpayers are paying them,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, who is a former House member. “I mean, finish your job.”
Wow, way to spend taxpayer money wisely – don’t even bother showing up to work. They should not be paid if they don’t work, right? Like the work requirements the GOP insist upon including in eligibility for social service programs like SNAP…
But then the lazy mofo in the White House sets such a strong example:
Mr. Trump himself is scheduled to leave on Friday for a 16-day vacation at his Florida estate.
The 2,000-page law, however, covers a vast array of other health-care issues, touching almost every part of the health-care industry in the United States.
For that reason, if the ruling were to take effect, it could create major disruptions across the U.S. health-care system — affecting which drugs patients can buy, preventive services for older Americans, the expansion of Medicaid in most states and the structure of the Indian Health Service.
“There’s really no American that’s not affected by this law,” said Yale law professor Abbe Gluck, who filed an amicus brief with other lawyers in the Texas case.
The judge’s ruling, she said, flouts settled legal doctrine and places key acts of Congress in reverse order.
By ignoring that Congress specifically declined to strike down the ACA in 2017 when it chose to alter only one portion of the bill, she said, the judge decreed that the 2010 Congress, which first passed the law, has more authority than the same legislative body in 2017.
But because of this activist Republican judge, the country will be unsettled until his ruling gets studied by the next level of judicial review. Crazy. And who is supporting the ACA in court? Certainly not Trump’s Justice Department, they want the bill to be overturned as well.
The Justice Department, which had been defending the law in court for years, announced in June that it would no longer argue for the mandate, and, as a result, the Trump administration said, a separate requirement that insurance companies cannot reject people who have preexisting conditions was also invalid.
President Trump’s budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, expressed confidence to Republican donors on Saturday that the party would overcome a Democratic “movement of hate” in November, but he acknowledged Republicans could lose races where they have nominated candidates who are not seen as “likable” enough, like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
And speaking of the Grand Bargain between the Trumpkins and the enabling GOP:
Michelle Goldberg opines:
What we have here, in miniature, is the corrupt bargain Washington Republicans have made with a president many of them privately despise. They know Trump is unfit, but he gives them tax cuts and right-wing judges. Those tax cuts and right-wing judges, in turn, strengthen the president’s hand, buying him gratitude from rich donors and potential legal cover. Republicans who participate in this cycle seem convinced that the situation is, and will remain, under their control.
This is the quintessence of the Trump-enabling Republican. He or she purports to be standing between us and the calamities that our ignorant and unstable president could unleash, while complaining, in the very same op-ed, that the media doesn’t give the White House enough credit. This person wants the administration to thrive because it has advanced Republican policy objectives, even as he or she argues that the administration is so dangerous that it must be contained by unprecedented internal sabotage.
Since this dystopian regime began, I’ve wondered how Republicans who collaborate with Trump despite knowing he’s a disaster live with themselves. Why hasn’t a group of White House staffers quit in protest and then held a press conference? Why haven’t Senators Bob Corker and Ben Sasse, both of whom have said that the anonymous op-ed matches their own understanding of Trump, done more to stand up to him? Why aren’t former officials like Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohn and H.R. McMaster telling us publicly what they saw on the inside? How is it that none of these people have managed to behave as honorably as Omarosa Manigault Newman, who at least put her name to her words, and brought us evidence of what she witnessed?
One answer is that they care about the norms of American democracy — at least some of them — but not quite as much as they care about the agenda of the Republican Party.
The America of the 21st Century is a lot of things, but a functional democracy it is not. One party (the Democrats) is too timid to stand up for liberal ideas with vehemence, though that could change in 2019, maybe; the other party (the GOP) hates the country and everything it stands for, and simply wants to plunder it, feeding the gaping maw of racism and conspiracy theories (climate change, deep state, etc.) in order to maintain power while only representing the interests of a tiny minority of the citizenship.
If Democrats were smarter, they would ignore reaching out to the Trump cult members, and instead work at getting the vast majority of country to the voting booth. Somewhere around 50 percent of the electorate doesn’t bother to vote, despite, in general, supporting purported liberal ideas like having a livable minimum wage, health care, schools, repairing water mains and bridges and so on, ad infinitum.
Yet too often, the Democrats battle on the margins, on a Republican set agenda.
President Trump and the Koch brothers have made it clear that they don’t like each other. Politically speaking, they are in fundamental disagreement over trade, tariffs and immigration.
Nonetheless, there is a functional Trump-Koch alliance, and the Republican Party has capitalized handsomely on it. Trump’s racially freighted, anti-immigrant rhetoric has been essential to persuading white voters to agree to Republicans’ long-sought tax and regulatory policies. These policies are inimical or irrelevant to the interests of low- and moderate-income Americans. They have been promulgated by the Trump administration, but many of them have been meticulously prepared and packaged by the Kochs’ massive political network.
The Kochs’ policy objectives that have been realized since Trump took office are legion: enactment of the $1.5 trillion tax cut; the opening of public lands to mining; the appointment of men and women with industry ties to key regulatory posts; weakened enforcement of worker safety rules; the proposed elimination or rollback of numerous environmental regulations; the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, along with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, and the appointment of judges favored by the Kochs to all levels of the federal bench.
Peas in a pod – oligarchs who despise American Constitutional Democracy, and the will of the people. I guess to be more accurate, Trump is a wanna-be oligarch, but he’s well on his way.
The Koch-Trump-GOP alliance is why Trump is still Resident, and why the Congress lickspittles like Rep. Devin Nunes and Paul Ryan are so dedicated to protecting Trump from consequences of his Crazy Town actions.
The Kochs know it too:
Koch also told donors, “We’ve made more progress in the past five years than I’ve made in the previous 50.”
Trump and the Kochs are not just complementary; they are symbiotic. Trump is essential to marketing the Kochs’ vision. Without him, the Koch agenda would fail.
The real news of the past few weeks isn’t that Trump is a wannabe Mussolini who can’t even make the trains run on time. It’s the absence of any meaningful pushback from Congressional Republicans. Indeed, not only are they acquiescing in Trump’s corruption, his incitements to violence, and his abuse of power, up to and including using the power of office to punish critics, they’re increasingly vocal in cheering him on.
Make no mistake: if Republicans hold both houses of Congress this November, Trump will go full authoritarian, abusing institutions like the I.R.S., trying to jail opponents and journalists on, er, trumped-up charges, and more — and he’ll do it with full support from his party.
But why? Is Trumpocracy what Republicans always wanted?
Well, it’s probably what some of them always wanted.
Very true. Trump is not some aberrant Republican, he is the GOP’s standard bearer, speaking out loud what most say in private.
But there are some special aspects of the modern GOP that make it especially vulnerable to this kind of slide into leader-worship. The party has long been in the habit of rejecting awkward facts and attributing them to conspiracies: it’s not a big jump from claiming that climate change is a giant hoax perpetrated by the entire scientific community to asserting that Trump is the blameless target of a vast deep state conspiracy.
And modern Republican politicians are, with few exceptions, apparatchiks: they are creatures of a monolithic movement that doesn’t allow dissent but protects the loyal from risk. Even if they should happen to lose a race in their gerrymandered districts, as long as they toed the line they can count on “wing nut welfare” — commentator slots on Fox News, appointments at think tanks, and so on.
The factional rancor threatening Republicans heading into the midterm elections this fall erupted into the open on Friday when a slugfest among moderates, hard-line conservatives and House leaders over immigration and welfare policy sank the party’s multiyear farm bill.
The twice-a-decade measure — which would have imposed strict new work requirements on food aid recipients while maintaining farm subsidies important to rural lawmakers — failed on a 213-to-198 vote. It was a rebuke of Speaker Paul D. Ryan by a key bloc of conservatives over his refusal to schedule an immediate vote on a restrictive immigration bill sponsored by the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Republican moderates, for their part, were moving in the opposite direction, shrugging off the pleas of their leaders as they worked toward forcing votes on legislation to protect from deportation young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.
The fights were striking, not only because of their intensity but also because of the participants. Capitol Hill has grown used to altercations between Republican leaders and their adamant right flank — showdowns that have shut down the government and edged the government toward defaulting on its debt. But in past fights, the party’s moderates have proved compliant.
This time, with their districts dominating the Democrats’ target list for the coming midterm races, the moderates are holding firm to their own demands.
More Congressional disfunction, and with no easy solution, at least until the 2018 elections. Paul Ryan has no “juice” left, as he’s a lame duck. He actually should go ahead and resign his Speakership now.
Tom Philpott of Mother Jones adds a little context:
Back in 2016, the Republican Party won the presidency and both chambers of Congress with strong support in rural areas, particularly among farmers. But since that triumph, the Grand Old Party hasn’t exactly been a champion of rural interests. As I’ve written in recent months, President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigration is essentially an attack on the workers who keep America’s farms and many rural towns humming. And his trade belligerence with China and Mexico amount to near-surgical strikes against farmers who supported him in California, the Southeast, and the Midwest’s corn and soybean belt.
In the middle of this drama, Congress is tasked with renewing the farm bill—twice-a-decade legislation that shapes US agriculture and food-aid policy. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), chair of the House Agriculture Committee, hopes to bring his version to a vote on the House floor this week. Let us count the ways it would bring pain to the US heartland:
The US House of Representatives voted down the farm bill this morning by a margin of 198-213. The Washington Post called it a “major embarrassment to GOP leaders” like outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who had hotly promoted the bill. In a Thursday Twitter thread, I laid out the political dynamics that ultimately killed the bill. It remains unclear whether the House Agriculture Committee chair, Rep. Mike Conaway (R.-Texas), will attempt to bring it back to the floor for another vote. House Democrats, who universally opposed the bill, hailed the failure as a victory for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which the bill would have effectively cut. Here’s Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.)
and from that referenced WaPo article, the bill is dead anyway, as the Senate is not even close to accepting the House version:
A sweeping farm bill failed in the House on Friday in a blow to GOP leaders who were unable to placate conservative lawmakers demanding commitments on immigration.
The House leadership put the bill on the floor gambling it would pass despite unanimous Democratic opposition. They negotiated with members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus up to the last minutes.
But their gamble failed. The vote was 213 to 198, with 30 Republicans joining 183 Democrats in defeating the bill.
The outcome exposed what is becoming an all-out war within the House GOP over immigration, a divisive fight the Republicans did not want to have heading into midterm elections in November that will decide control of Congress.
The House farm bill would have been a non-starter anyway in the Senate, which is writing its own farm bill. Any legislation that ultimately makes it to Trump’s desk will have to look more like the version in the Senate, where bipartisan support will be necessary for anything to pass and there is not sufficient support for the food-stamp changes.
But it’s the brazenness with which the Republican Party abandoned any last remaining pretense of caring about deficits or federal spending that may come back to haunt them, and mark a shift in the political landscape around taxes and spending. It goes further than the $1.9 trillion in additional deficits, including higher payments on the national debt, that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects will result from the tax bill over the next 10 years. When the nonpartisan number crunchers evaluated the fiscal impact of all of the legislation passed since mid-2017, including new spending, their analysis found that the GOP will add $2.6 trillion to the deficit over that period. What’s more, as Catherine Rampell noted in The Washington Post, that assumes that the economy will continue growing apace, and that the “temporary” individual tax cuts will expire according to the written law. But recent history suggests otherwise—most of George W. Bush’s budget-busting cuts were made permanent under Obama. In CBO’s worst-case scenario, “deficits would be larger by an average of a full percentage point of GDP, rising by a total of $2.6 trillion to yield a cumulative deficit of nearly $15 trillion” over the next 10 years.
Then, having created massive deficits for as far as the eye can see, House Republicans had the chutzpah to try to pass a constitutional amendment that would bar future Congresses from running any deficits at all. It’s a remarkably stupid policy. Running deficits isn’t inherently a bad thing if the purpose is to stimulate the economy during a recession or address a national emergency. The problem with these deficits is that they come at a time when the economy is growing and mostly just enrich the wealthy and pump up corporate profits.
Paul Ryan’s real legacy is this. GOP-style austerity only applies to social safety net programs, not corporate tax give-aways.
And as Holland mentions in his article, Democrats like Senator Brian Schatz note the GOP fiscal hypocrisy.
Vox reports on Senator Schatz’s plan for making college more affordable, and includes this exchange:
But overall, Schatz sees little appetite from his Republican colleagues to reform the system. And with hastily passed GOP tax cuts estimated to add $1 trillion to the national deficit over the next decade, Schatz said he’s not yet going to wade into details of how he’ll pay for his plan because he thinks there’s a double standard with Republicans and Democrats.
“I don’t play the pay-for game. I reject the pay-for game,” he said. “After the Republicans did the $1.5 trillion in unpaid-for tax cuts, and as we’re doing a bipartisan appropriations bill — which I support — which is also an increase in federal spending [that’s] unpaid for … I just reject the idea that only progressive ideas have to be paid for. We can work on that as we go through the process, but I think it’s a trap.”
And he’s under no impression that his bill will gain traction in the current Republican-controlled Congress, especially given the tumult of news swirling around President Donald Trump and few signs from Republicans that they’re going to seriously entertain the issue.
“One of the things I have observed among Republicans — and part of it is that they’re just unserious about governing in the first place, but I certainly observed on health care that they had no actual legislative program once they got the gavels,” Schatz said. “And I think it’s important for us to draw a clear contrast with Republicans over the rest of the year, but also be ready to govern.”
[Pompeo] is a foreign-policy hawk who has fiercely opposed the Iran nuclear deal, stoked fears of Muslims in the United States and abroad, opposed closing the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, and defended the National Security Agency’sunconstitutional surveillance programs as “good and important work.” He has even gone so far as to say that NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden “should be brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence.”
Pompeo’s open disregard for privacy rights in particular and civil liberties in general, as well as his penchant for extreme language and more extreme policies, mark him as a profoundly troublesome pick to serve as the head of a powerful intelligence agency. But he is also one of the most remarkably conflicted political figures in the conflicted city of Washington, thanks to his ties to the privately held and frequently secretive global business empire that has played a pivotal role in advancing his political career.
Two powerful constituencies within the Trumponovela, Koch Brothers and the Kremlin are both pleased by Pompeo’s elevation.
In the Sixteenth Minute
You know, these guys:
The Tea Party movement’s dirty little secret is that its chief financial backers owe their family fortune to the granddaddy of all their hatred: Stalin’s godless empire of the USSR. The secretive oil billionaires of the Koch family, the main supporters of the right-wing groups that orchestrated the Tea Party movement, would not have the means to bankroll their favorite causes had it not been for the pile of money the family made working for the Bolsheviks in the late 1920s and early 1930s, building refineries, training Communist engineers and laying down the foundation of Soviet oil infrastructure.
The comrades were good to the Kochs. Today Koch Industries has grown into the second-largest private company in America. With an annual revenue of $100 billion, the company was just $6.3 billion shy of first place in 2008. Ownership is kept strictly in the family, with the company being split roughly between brothers Charles and David Koch, who are worth about $20 billion apiece and are infamous as the largest sponsors of right-wing causes. They bankroll scores of free-market and libertarian think tanks, institutes and advocacy groups. Greenpeace estimates that the Koch family shelled out $25 million from 2005 to 2008 funding the “climate denial machine,” which means they outspent Exxon Mobile three to one.
Here is a better historical fact, one that the Kochs don’t like to repeat in public: the family’s initial wealth was not created by the harsh, creative forces of unfettered capitalism, but by the grace of the centrally planned economy of the Soviet Union. The Koch family, America’s biggest pushers of the free-market Tea Party revolution, would not be the billionaires they are today were it not for the whim of one of Stalin’s comrades.
I was curious which corporations were giving money to the RNC, which in turn is helping Roy Moore in his quest to usher in the pedophilia-supporting era into the GOP. There have undoubtedly been other sexual criminals and ne’er-do-wells elected to the US Congress over the years, but I’d be hard pressed to find another example of one who seems to be making his (alleged) infraction part of his campaign platform. Since it took me some time to track down this information, I’m posting it here.
A ThinkProgress review of contributions to the Republican National Committee so far in this 2017 to 2018 campaign cycle, at least 15 companies have donated $15,000 or more each from their corporate political action committees (PACs) to the party, and are thus contributing to the pro-Moore efforts. The totals include donations through the end of September. According to Federal Election Commission data from the subscription online Political MoneyLine, these include:
I was unable to find information on the websites of these corporations if pedophilia was part of company policy or listed in their Code of Conduct, perhaps only in the boardroom, will this be discussed.
As Donald Trump and his enablers in the Republican party have muddled through the first months of his presidency, more and more journalists and public figures have discussed the option of removal of Trump from office. Impeachment would be one option, but the Republican party doesn’t seem to have the political backbone to begin this. The other option is a triggering of the 25th Amendment of the Constitution.
Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair reported recently:
Several months ago, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation, former chief strategist Steve Bannon told Trump that the risk to his presidency wasn’t impeachment, but the 25th Amendment—the provision by which a majority of the Cabinet can vote to remove the president. When Bannon mentioned the 25th Amendment, Trump said, “What’s that?” According to a source, Bannon has told people he thinks Trump has only a 30 percent chance of making it the full term.
Bannon’s sense of urgency is being fueled by his belief that Trump’s hold on power is slipping. The collapse of Obamacare repeal, and the dimming chances that tax reform will pass soon—many Trump allies are deeply pessimistic about its prospects—have created the political climate for establishment Republicans to turn on Trump. Two weeks ago, according to a source, Bannon did a spitball analysis of the Cabinet to see which members would remain loyal to Trump in the event the 25th Amendment were invoked, thereby triggering a vote to remove the president from office. Bannon recently told people he’s not sure if Trump would survive such a vote.
Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office
Whether or not there are enough Cabinet members who might vote to trigger President Pence taking office is an interesting consideration, but bear in mind, for this coup to be successful, per the language of the amendment, two-thirds vote of both Houses is required. If the GOP cannot even handle the Russian investigation without attempting to thwart it, why are they going to vote to remove Trump? Maybe if the Democrats sweep both Houses of Congress in 2018, the equation will change, maybe, but until then, Trump suddenly resigning to spend more time with his Tweets is the country’s best hope.