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US The Unravelling of the American Presidency

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
Elsewhere, it was implied that, with the Democrats taking a majority in the House of Representatives, the worst of the trump presidency is behind us. I think the contrary is true, for a number of reasons.

This thread is intended for discussion of the ways, large and small, in which this presidency and this administration differs from "normal", from what has been considered acceptable in American institutions, and the ways in which American institutions are successfully pushing back and the ways in which they are failing.
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
To start with, the reasons why I think the situation is in no way resolved by the recent election:

The changes that the trump administration has wrought to date have not, with the exception of the new tax law, depended on holding a majority in the House. With the exception of the tax law, no legislation of any significance has been enacted during the trump administration. Even with a Republican majority in both chambers of Congress, trump and the GOP have not been successful in repealing Obamacare, getting the much vaunted wall built, etc.

Where trump has gotten his way is by unilateral action by the executive branch: withdrawing from treaties, executive actions with respect to immigration and refugee issues, imposition of tariffs, rollback of environmental, consumer, wildlife, financial, etc. protections. He didn't need the House to do that; he doesn't need the House to continue doing even greater damage.

The one other area in which trump has been successful is in getting his judicial nominees approved. That required a GOP majority in the Senate, and that majority has been increased. The House plays no role in this.
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
The reasons why I think the situation is going to get worse:

trump is a narcissist who has gotten used to power. The more his power is threatened, the more he feels he is being thwarted, the more he will lash out. If you pay attention this tweets, you will see that they are getting increasingly unhinged.

Most of the people around him who were at least somewhat successful in managing him are either gone or on their way out.

The House, under Democratic control, will be holding hearings that challenge trump. This will drive him into a frenzy.
 

PTree15

Beach bum
Location
Connecticut
Yes, even though the House turned, the GOP gains in the Senate disheartened me quite a bit. The moves he makes regarding the courts can have impacts for decades to come, and that is downright scary. It's galling how much he employs executive orders, considering that he railed against Obama for doing the same thing. It's as if he thinks there is some forcefield around him that prevents people from realizing that he does a lot of things he accused Obama of doing.

And even though it appears Mueller is getting closer to the corruption, I don't think it will change the minds of his supporters. They simply refuse to acknowledge facts. All they yell is "fake news!" every time something critical of him is reported. I would like someone to conduct a psychological study of this phenomenon. It's astonishing to me how the base just doubles down on supporting him despite actions he is taking (tariffs, etc.) that actually hurt them.
 
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Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
The situation with the judiciary makes me sick as well. They are taking care to nominate and confirm young judges. Many of them will serve five decades or longer. It was a strategy of McConnell's, to delay, delay and delay confirmations during the Obama years, and now the GOP is reaping the benefits of that strategy at all levels of the federal judiciary.

As far as the Senate is concerned, the Democrats were defending so many seats, and the Republicans just a few (and those mainly in solidly red states) that most people who watch these things closely thought it would be a good election for the Democrats if their losses didn't exceed four Senate seats.
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
So here we have a president who enjoys undercutting and humiliating the people who work for him. This is not normal even though it is what we have come to expect of trump.

In the wake of the withdrawal of Ayers (the frontrunner to replace Kelly as Chief of Staff), Politico has a piece on how what was once one of the most prestigious jobs in Washington has been diminished.

For decades, the job of White House chief of staff was once among Washington’s most desirable jobs — a pinnacle of access and power. Like so many other things in the White House, President Donald Trump has changed that.
On Sunday evening, the vice president’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, who had been the leading candidate to succeed outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly, took himself out of the running.
A job that was once a ticket to Washington royalty has recently become a laughing stock. Trump’s first two top aides, Kelly and Reince Priebus before him, have left as diminished and arguably humiliated figures, unable to control the wild chaos of this president’s White House. Priebus was marginalized and mocked before he was abandoned on an airport tarmac. Kelly was subjected to analyses of his facial expressions during awkward moments, repeatedly threatened to quit, and wasn’t even allowed to announce his own resignation despite a reported agreement with Trump that he could do so.
From pinnacle to punchline: How Trump diminished the job of his chief of staff
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
This is a letter that 44 former Senators (Demcrats, Republicans and Independents) have written to the current members of the Senate:


Dear Senate colleagues,

As former members of the U.S. Senate, Democrats and Republicans, it is our shared view that we are entering a dangerous period, and we feel an obligation to speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security.
We are on the eve of the conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation and the House’s commencement of investigations of the president and his administration. The likely convergence of these two events will occur at a time when simmering regional conflicts and global power confrontations continue to threaten our security, economy and geopolitical stability.
It is a time, like other critical junctures in our history, when our nation must engage at every level with strategic precision and the hand of both the president and the Senate.
We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld.
During our service in the Senate, at times we were allies and at other times opponents, but never enemies. We all took an oath swearing allegiance to the Constitution. Whatever united or divided us, we did not veer from our unwavering and shared commitment to placing our country, democracy and national interest above all else.
At other critical moments in our history, when constitutional crises have threatened our foundations, it has been the Senate that has stood in defense of our democracy. Today is once again such a time.
Regardless of party affiliation, ideological leanings or geography, as former members of this great body, we urge current and future senators to be steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy by ensuring that partisanship or self-interest not replace national interest.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/we-are-former-senators-the-senate-has-long-stood-in-defense-of-democracy--and-must-again/2018/12/10/3adfbdea-fca1-11e8-ad40-cdfd0e0dd65a_story.html?utm_term=.e30a7b3d3917
 

PTree15

Beach bum
Location
Connecticut
The situation with the judiciary makes me sick as well. They are taking care to nominate and confirm young judges. Many of them will serve five decades or longer. It was a strategy of McConnell's, to delay, delay and delay confirmations during the Obama years, and now the GOP is reaping the benefits of that strategy at all levels of the federal judiciary.

As far as the Senate is concerned, the Democrats were defending so many seats, and the Republicans just a few (and those mainly in solidly red states) that most people who watch these things closely thought it would be a good election for the Democrats if their losses didn't exceed four Senate seats.
McConnell is one of the most vile people on this planet. He is driven by a thirst for power that is based on a twisted ideology obsessed with white power and privilege and bereft of any compassion for anyone but his own kind.

The courts are now stacked against the 99 percent on so many fronts. I really fear the dark ages this country is entering.
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the trump inaugural committee's spending is under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors.
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
Here's more detail:

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are looking into whether President Trump's inaugural committee misspent funds or accepted donations in exchange for access to the administration, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The Journal reported that many of the president's biggest campaign supporters were contributors to his inaugural fund. Donating in exchange for political favors or using funds for purposes other than the inauguration could violate federal laws.
The news outlet, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that the investigation is in its early stages, and stemmed from materials obtained during an FBI raid earlier this year of longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
Previous reports have indicated that law enforcement was interested in certain individuals with ties to Russia attending the festivities in January 2017.

The Washington Post reported in January that the FBI expressed concerns about several Russians connected to the Kremlin who were in Washington, D.C., that weekend, and ABC News reported in June that special counsel Robert Mueller was looking into how several Russian oligarchs were given access to invitation-only parties.
Prosecutors probing Trump inauguration spending: report
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
Donald Trump was the third person in the room in August 2015 when his lawyer Michael Cohen and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker discussed ways Pecker could help counter negative stories about Trump's relationships with women, NBC News has confirmed.
As part of a nonprosecution agreement disclosed Wednesday by federal prosecutors, American Media Inc., the Enquirer's parent company, admitted that "Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate's relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided."
Trump was in the room during hush money discussions with tabloid publisher
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
Federal prosecutors are investigating whether foreign donors illegally channeled money into President Trump's inaugural fund and a pro-Trump super PAC, The New York Times reported Thursday.

People familiar with the inquiry told the paper that prosecutors are probing whether the alleged donations were made in an attempt to buy influence over U.S. policy.
The investigation is focused on whether people from Middle Eastern countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, disguised donations they made to both funds by using straw donors, the Times reported.
Prosecutors investigating Trump inaugural fund, pro-Trump super PAC for possible illegal foreign donations: NY Times
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
Mattis is out as Sec'y of Defense, as of the end of February. Unless I've forgotten someone, he's the last of the sane ones; there are just yes men left.
 

PTree15

Beach bum
Location
Connecticut
Mattis is out as Sec'y of Defense, as of the end of February. Unless I've forgotten someone, he's the last of the sane ones; there are just yes men left.
This has to be a record for turnover of an administration's staff. It must be chaos trying to work in that administration.
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
Well, this is fascinating:

In early 2015, a man who runs a small technology company showed up at Trump Tower to collect $50,000 for having helped Michael Cohen, then Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, try to rig online polls in his boss’s favor before the presidential campaign.
Mr. Gauger owns RedFinch Solutions LLC and is chief information officer at Liberty University in Virginia, where Jerry Falwell Jr., an evangelical leader and fervent Trump supporter, is president.
If the connection between Cohen and Jerry Falwell Jr. rings a bell, that may be because of the bizarre story that came out last year, in which Falwell and his wife, on a stay at a luxury hotel in Miami, developed a “friendly relationship” with a pool boy. Two years later they began loaning the pool boy (by then, all of 22 years old) funds that would total $1.8 million to start a business. BuzzFeed reported that “Falwell had discussed the [pool boy] case with Cohen prior to his unexpected decision to lend his backing to Trump,” an endorsement Cohen arranged and that was incredibly important to Trump in obtaining evangelical Christian support in 2016.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/01/17/michael-cohen-is-about-sing-trump-is-big-trouble/?utm_term=.6b887025a820
 

Katrina

Deity
Location
Canada
I just finished reading up on birth control access in the U.S., and I'm shocked to see what Trump has been doing. It looks like a judge just blocked Trump's attempt to change the Affordable Care Act (which would make it easier for insurers/companies to refuse BC coverage for moral/religious reasons).
The Trump Administration's New Birth Control Rules Have Been Blocked Nationwide

It looks like he is also trying to limit sex education. He wants to make clinics and schools only provide information on abstinence or natural rhythm methods. Holy cow. And he has the nerve to talk about how much he loves women. What a crock of s***.
 
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