Can anyone now unseat Trump?
The Pumpkin feels it necessary to draw the following item to your attention:
Political correspondent of The Daily Kos, Mark Sumner – a man with proper gray hair, not some punk in his mom’s basement, or a ranting 71-year-old YouTube pundit – God bless Mike Malloy! – makes or implies the following very sober points, upon which I have extrapolated:
1) Led by Mitch McConnell, leader of the Senate, a select section of the Republican party may have been planning Trump’s presidency for several years before 2016, possibly in collusion with Moscow. (This latter might be inferred from McConnell’s point-blank refusal to accept, either the conclusions of the Mueller report, or current US intelligence agency assessments of foreign interference in the 2020 election, about which “Moscow Mitch” has said he proposes to do precisely nothing.)
(Stung by being branded “Moscow Mitch” on primetime cable TV, McConnell rushed to the Senate to inform an empty chamber that he did accept those things, but still proposed to prevent the Congress doing anything about them.)
2) Thanks to McConnell’s obstructiveness, no Obama appointments to the courts were allowed during the latter part of his presidency, opening the way for the Trump presidency to appoint, now, 43% of appeals court judges (and two Supreme Court judges) who can be assumed to bias their judgements conservatively in favor of government and the corporate sector. This may be assumed to have been a deliberate strategy.
3) Through the appointment of Attorney General William Barr, and the forcing out of Deputy AG Rosenberg, the president now effectively has the Department of Justice in his pocket – the only body that can order his arrest and indictment on criminal charges. It is also now the main conduit for classified information – the removal of the head of the Intelligence Agency, Dan Coats, has sealed off that avenue of escape for any information the president wants to keep in his own private loop.
4) Despite himself having been ruled to be in contempt of Congress, defying subpoenas to attend and explain his conduct in suppressing inconvenient parts of the Mueller report (which in the view of over a thousand US attorneys substantially incriminated Trump of colluding with the Russians and then of trying to disable the inquiry) and issuing false information about it, Barr is determined to protect the principle that a sitting president cannot be indicted on any charge.
5) Supported by Barr, the president has established a protective ring around himself, his present and former staff, and is successfully preventing Congress from hearing testimony or seeing evidence of crimes he may have committed, or of any relationship he may have with overseas actors, including Putin, from any witnesses. Mueller found he had also ordered evidence to be destroyed.
6) The president – who has supported, excused and pardoned rightwing lawbreakers, neo-Nazis and even pedopholes – has shown total contempt for Congressional subpoenas, ordering staff not to comply and making it clear that even for an impeachment hearing, he would not himself do so. Were the Supreme Court, packed as it is with conservatives – including two Trump appointees – somehow to rule in favor of Congress’ legal right to request information, Sumner points out, if he cannot be indicted, and the Justice Department won’t indict him, Trump has no reason to, and cannot be made to, comply.
7) Trump thus has secured effective personal control of the legal system and has found a way to block any political checks and balances that could enforce charges against himself. He has also moved to control ALL sources of information available to Congress, by channeling it through the Justice Department and McConnell’s agents in the Republican-controlled Senate; in addition to suppressing most sources of inconvenient research. There is now technically no barrier to his assuming the presidency for life, as he has often “joked” he would like to do.
Think about that for a moment. Were he or any of his cohort to insist that the moon is made of Kraft cheese, there is no-one now with official access to the information that would disprove it. The truth is now whatever Trump, McConnell, Barr, Kellyanne Conway or Devin Nunes* says it is.
That could, says Sumner, include asserting that Obama, Hillary Clinton, James Comey and Bob Mueller and any of his political “enemies” were guilty of conspiring with Russia – a complete inversion of the truth, but it is something Trump frequently repeats at his rallies. Barr would be within his rights to suppress any evidence of innocence, should he so wish. Only evidence of guilt, approved or even invented by Trump, would be admissible.
“Trump has authorized Barr to look at all classified information, no matter the context. And to selectively share that information with whomever he pleases. Trump explicitly included sharing information with Republicans in Congress, such as Devin Nunes.
“Because Barr is authorized to release only what he wants, he can select the bits and pieces that support Trump, leaving any information that might be harmful to Trump hidden. Because he can share it with whomever he wants, the result is a massive imbalance of information.” – Mark Sumner. The Daily Kos.
Lastly, yes, the electorate does look minded to try to vote him out, his polling figures still put the Republicans in the minority by some way, but not only are foreign countries such as Russia and Saudi Arabia agitating on his behalf, but the Republican-controlled legislatures of many red states are furiously working once again to suppress Democratic voters. The numbers are astonishing: over 17 million adult Americans have been removed from voter rolls since 2016 for reasons as paltry as having similar names to other voters; or not possessing an expensive biometric driver’s licence.
And there is no guarantee that, if voted out, he would actually leave office.
Because he would have the power to indict his successful political opponent on trumped-up charges, should he so wish; suppress any evidence to the contrary, and declare the election void.
In other words, Trump has weaponized Article 2 of the constitution, concerning the powers of the President, against his own Union, and is rapidly assuming the full authority to do anything he pleases, without let or hindrance.
The question is, is Trump – from all that we know about him and his notorious disregard for constitutional detail – intellectually capable of putting a complex strategy like this together on his own account, or is he fronting for others?
Does it matter? Because, as Sumner ominously concludes:
“How an autocrat in absolute control of the sources of information and the ability to mete out justice is dislodged is anyone’s guess.”
For Mike Malloy’s rougher-edged take on this, also see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEwFVs5sNkY
*For those unfamiliar with Nunes, he is Republican congressman for the 22nd district of California, and former chair of the House Intelligence Committee. His background as a dairy farmer led to a bizarre episode when a captioned picture of a cow went viral and he threatened to sue everyone who had retweeted it; running into thousands.
During committee hearings into Russian interference with the 2016 election, in 2017 Nunes became newsworthy when he made comical attempts to suppress evidence about the disgraced National Security Advisor, General Mike Flynn**, by preventing the former Deputy Attorney General, Sally Yates, from testifying; and was photographed making a clandestine dash to brief the White House counsel, Don McGahn, about classified evidence received at the hearing, which he then attempted to shut down; presumably on Trump’s order.
He subsequently published a wholly fictional memo, alleging a conspiracy within the FBI against president Donald Trump. Completely false, nevertheless it has formed the basis for much of the president’s rhetoric against the Justice Department, the Mueller inquiry and law enforcement ever since.
**More evidence has now emerged, regarding Flynn’s trip to Moscow, where he was photographed at a dinner sitting two places away from Vladimir Putin, but swore that they had never met. It is now apparent on his own private admission, recorded soon after the event, that they did in fact meet.
Flynn, convicted of lying to the FBI and failing to declare “PR” work for the Russian and Turkish governments as a foreign agent, has still not been sentenced and may never be.
On the very day Farage was reported praising Trump’s racist attacks on colored Democrat representatives in Congress, inciting his dumbfucks to chant “Send her back!”, as a “genius” political tactic, a 21-year-old white supremacist with an anti-immigrant manifesto published on 8Chan shoots 20 people dead in a Walmart in El Paso, on the Mexican border.
Well done, Nigel. You might as well have murdered those people in cold blood, women and children, yourself. You should be locked up for inciting a heinous, random act of violence, you pathetic, Trump-cocksucking little fascist son of a bitch. You met him again last week, what, did he fuck you in the ass with his little mushroom, Nigel? Did you like that?
And that goes for your disgusting Eurocretin MEPs too. Worthless dross, all of them. Nazis in drag.
“On (1 August), Yahoo! News published an exclusive story detailing a May 2019 FBI assessment that online conspiracy theories ‘very likely’ result in domestic extremists committing violent crimes. The report notes that it is ‘the first FBI product examining the threat from conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists and provides a baseline for future intelligence products,’ and predicts an increased risk of violent outcomes as the United States enters ‘major election cycles such as the 2020 presidential election.'”
On 02 and 03 August, 29 people are massacred by white extremists in two shooting incidents.
Let no-one in Britain be in any doubt
It’s reported that Trump is calling for Antifa to be declared a “domestic terrorism” organization, alongside groups like the violent Los Angeles gang, MS-13.
Antifa is not a gang. It is a loosely constituted worldwide movement opposed to fascism and neo-Nazis, that started in Germany as a resistance movement before WW2. He has described them in a tweet as “gutless radical left whack-jobs” who go around beating people with baseball bats.
Hitler hanged a lot of them.
Let no-one in Britain be in any doubt of what Johnson and Farage want us to get in bed with after Brexit. Trump is not a joke, he is in deadly earnest in believing the USA must be run by him, and him alone, as an ultra-nativist, white, christian, patriarchal, authoritarian dictatorship.
As described above, he has set about destroying all alternative sources of information and authority opposed to those of his small group of enablers in the White House and the Senate; not to mention his handlers in Moscow and Riyadh.
At my junior boarding school in the 1950s, there was a teacher, a retired army officer, who was a little unstable. One evening there was a power outage in the assembly hall. We grabbed for our flashlights, which we kept hidden (we thought!) as we were not supposed to have them. The mad major marched onto the gallery and bellowed: “Mine is the only light in the room. Put those torches out.”
That line has stuck with me for sixty years as the perfect encapsulation of bonkers authoritarianism of the kind we are witnessing in the USA.
OMG! Quote of the Week
“The Colorado Rapids have announced Saturday’s match with the Montreal Impact will go ahead as scheduled, but parking at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park will be restricted to asphalt lots and a planned fireworks display has been canceled due to plague-infested fleas found on prairie dog colonies in the area.”
The Pumpkin is not sure which is worse, a naff-sounding sponsor or an outbreak of buboes among the sporting public.
The Pumpkin had the pleasure yesterday of walking with Hunzi through a fluttering cloud of Painted Ladies prostituting themselves on the vanishing remnants of the panicles of the almost-over Buddleia flowers down by the river. There were too many to count, perhaps 30 or 40 or more.
Unable at first to identify them, I was going to search online but have been beaten to it by a BBC report alerting the nation to a once-in-ten-years invasion of the migratory little spotty creatures, encouraged they suspect by the warm spring and summer. An expert commented that he expected we would be up to our knees in them by the Autumn.
We are encouraged to spend 15 minutes counting them, before reporting them to the authorities. A bit of a stretch, considering. It reminds me of the old schoolmasters’ joke: Time Flies? you cannot – they fly too fast.
In fact, there seems to be quite a lot more of every winged thing around this summer, especially flies. Your Granny W., below, has also commented, the Accuweather global temperatures map has been showing a return to something approaching normality in recent days, with nowhere north of the equator registering much more than 30 degrees C. – 35C in Cairo – the only worrying part being that it’s not much colder above the Arctic circle, where Greenland is losing icecap and glaciers at a frightening rate and there’s no sea ice left off its north coast..
(Just trying to think of a collective noun for a large number of Painted Ladies. A “coach party” would seem appropriate?)
GW: Where have all the showers gone?
USA: Will it ever stop? “Portions of the central United States will remain at risk for drenching and locally damaging thunderstorms (with possible tornadoes) into early next week. A nearly stationary weather pattern led to rounds of flooding downpours across the central Plains as July ended and August began, with more than 10 inches of rain reported in parts of Kansas.” Meanwhile there’s been record rainfall in the southeast – a driver was killed by a falling tree when 4 inches of rain fell in 1 hour near Gatlinburg, Tennessee (Accuweather)
CBS reports, 400 firefighters are battling three huge fires that have broken out in Contra Costa county (“The Marsh Complex fire”) near Clayton, N. California. Residents were ordered to shelter indoors.
Factoid: A total of 204 babies and children have died in hot car incidents in the US since 2014.
Sierra Leone: “Several people have died after flash floods in the capital, Freetown (where over 1 thousand people died in a gigantic landslide in 2017). The city saw torrential rain on 02 August, with more expected. Streets have been inundated and homes damaged or destroyed. At least 4 deaths occurred after the wall of a building collapsed. (Floodlist) Hundreds more are awaiting rescue.
India: “Almost half a metre of rain in 24 hours has caused flooding in parts of the state of Gujarat in the west of India. Around 5 thousand people have been evacuated by boat as river levels rose. Meanwhile at least 3 people have died after heavy rain in the state of Rajasthan.” (Floodlist)
China: Floodlist reports: Flooding in north-eastern Heilongjiang Province has displaced around 11,400 people and damaged over 2,500 homes. Levels of the Ashi River have been above warning-level since 30 July, following a period of heavy rain. The overflowing river is affecting areas around Harbin City. Around 79,130 hectares of crops have been wiped out. Losses are estimated over US$315 million.
Norway: At least 1 person is missing and over 150 have been evacuated after heavy rain triggered landslides, floods and debris flows in south-western Norway on 30 July. Roads have been closed and power and telecommunications interrupted. Police, rescue services and Red Cross are continuing to search for a car and driver believed to have been swept away. (Floodlist)
UK: Engineers are still working to shore up a dam above the small town of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire, that’s been threatening to give way since last week, after heavy rain. Helicopters have been dropping sandbags and aggregate into the damaged spillway. More heavy rain is forecast for today (4 August). Residents were allowed to return yesterday for just 15 minutes to collect pets and valuables before being evacuated again. (Various sources)
Pacific: Cat 4 hurricane, Erick subsided into a Tropical Storm and passed by Hawaii with no more than some high surf and heavy rain. Behind it, Flossie has also de-intensified over cooler waters. “Tropical Storm Francisco may become the northwest Pacific’s first typhoon in more than five months. It’s been an uncommonly quiet typhoon season. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center predicted that Francisco would intensify to the equivalent of Category 1 strength before reaching the southernmost of Japan’s large islands, Kyushu, around Tuesday local time.” (The Weather Channel)
Yellowstone: The webcams in the park had a great view of all the geysers erupting simultaneously yesterday morning, some of them out of the river, after a M3.2 earthquake at a depth of only 1km rocked Manhattan, a community in Montana on the edge of the caldera. (Greeley)