Friday, October 4, 2019

The coming Trump Slump and other Trumpublican Travesties

Paul Krugman predicts Here Comes the Trump Slump, And he has only himself to blame.

But you know he will blame someone else - like maybe Hillary’s emails?

When he isn’t raving about how the deep state is conspiring against him, Donald Trump loves to boast about the economy, claiming to have achieved unprecedented things. As it happens, none of his claims are true. While both G.D.P. and employment have registered solid growth, the Trump economy simply seems to have continued a long expansion that began under Barack Obama. In fact, someone who looked only at the past 10 years of data would never guess that an election had taken place.

But now it’s starting to look as if Trump really will achieve something unique: He may well be the first president of modern times to preside over a slump that can be directly attributed to his own policies, rather than bad luck.

… what will come next? Trump being Trump, it’s a good bet that he’ll soon be denouncing troubling economic data as fake news; I wouldn’t be surprised to see political pressure on the statistical agencies to report better numbers. Hey, if it can happen to the National Weather Service, why not the Bureau of Economic Analysis (which reports, by the way, to Wilbur Ross)?

… The scary thing is that around 35 percent of Americans will probably believe whatever excuses Trump comes up with. But that won’t be enough to save him.

Well before the 2016 election, Trump’s blustering bullshit created my impression of him as an ignorant lout. Not only does he not understand economics, but he doesn’t know much about the workings of our democracy over which he presides. (Shudder!) Consider, for instance, his latest claim about impeachment being a coup. Here is what I found on the web.

impeachmentcoup
im-peech-muh ntkoo dey-tahz; French koo dey-ta
nounnoun, plural coups d'é·tat
(in Congress or a state legislature) the presentation of formal charges against a public official by the lower house, trial to be before the upper house.a sudden and decisive action in politics, especially one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force

So, you see, impeachment starts with an inquiry, not force, and it is legal and mandated by our constitution.

At Splinternews.com, Jack Crosbie takes issue with Trump in Impeachment is Not a Coup.

After more than two years of blatant corruption and self-dealing and inhumane policy in office, President Donald Trump currently faces a serious, organized impeachment inquiry. The impeachment process, set in motion by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on September 24, is a legal means outlined in Constitution for removing a president who’s committed “high crimes.”

Can’t believe we have to say this, but: What is happening is not a coup!

Donald J. Trump
@realDonaldTrump
Oct 1, 2019
As I learn more and more each day, I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the.People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!

Trump has been pretty quick to cry “coup” throughout his tenure as president, previously using the word to declare the (also legal!) special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election illegitimate. His other favorite term is “witch hunt,” but his use of “coup” is a bit more troubling, as the word usually denotes a process that is, uh, not exactly peaceful. The definition of coup d’ètat isn’t formally set in international law, but it’s typically understood to mean a violent overthrow of an existing ruler by illegal means. What’s happening here is not that!

So Trump’s use of the word to describe the constitutional process is troubling, seeing as our system of government was specifically structured around peaceful transfers of power (between land-owning white people, but still).

And it’s clear we’re going to see this line of attack deployed a lot more. After Trump’s coup chat last night, Fox & Friends picked up the rhetoric this morning:

Bobby Lewis
@revrrlewis
Fox & Friends jokes about being “the world’s most powerful TV show, according to people who write stuff sometimes” as they lead into a report on Trump “accusing the left of staging – get this – a coup!”

What goes relatively unsaid in all of this as well is that the impeachment inquiry is a long ways off from removing Trump from office. If things go well, it could help Democrats in a general election, but even if it succeeds, actually removing a president from power takes a formal trial and then two-thirds of the Senate voting to convict, which seems…less-than-probable given the current makeup of the Senate. An actual coup, on the other hand—far less red tape. Food for thought!

In yesterday morning’s Daily Star, Bloomberg News author James Gibney thinks we should Forget the ‘deep state,’ what Trump hates is the state itself.

President Trump’s suggestion last week that the Ukraine whistleblower and his sources were no better than spies, and hinting at treason and the death penalty, has been variously described as despicable, terrible, un-American and reprehensible. I am here to tell you that it was actually worse than that.

Trump delivered his remarks before the United States Mission to the United Nations, a branch of the bureaucracy already under assault from his political appointees. The president might like to complain about the “deep state,” but what Trump really doesn’t like is the state itself — the idea of a nonpartisan, professional civil service responsible for executing policies and following procedure regardless of who is in office.

The U.S. Mission to the U.N. works in tandem with the State Department’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs, which was just the subject of a withering report by the department’s inspector general. It found evidence of harassment of career employees judged “disloyal” based on their perceived political views, retaliation for refusing to accede to conflicts of interest, and numerous other instances of disrespectful and hostile treatment. The bureau’s politically appointed leaders ignored or deflected protests, in one case telling an employee that complaints were pointless because the Trump administration “has my back.” This climate of fear and mismanagement helped to drive away 50 out of the bureau’s 300 U.S. employees.

Trump’s remarks last week were short on gratitude and long on attacks on the press, Democrats, former Vice President Joe Biden and the whistleblower report. (As someone who used to draft speeches for embassy pep rallies for a U.S. president and secretary of state, I can tell you that Trump’s was not standard fare.) And given what the mission and bureau’s staff have already endured, his closing message was undoubtedly crystal clear: If you speak out against this administration, you will pay a huge price.

Sadly, many State Department officials are already conditioned by training and temperament not to rock the boat. During my foreign service orientation back in the 20th century, my class dutifully sat through a television documentary about an officer whose aggressive human-rights reporting derailed his career. The message was clear, despite the department’s clumsy attempt to show us that it did, in fact, tolerate dissent: a visit from two senior officers with tales of how they bucked the system and prevailed. Unfortunately, neither was still with the service — a detail that did not go unnoticed by me or my classmates. Turns out it takes real guts to be a whistleblower.

That’s exactly the kind of courage that this administration doesn’t want to cultivate — notwithstanding Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s empty pledges to restore “swagger” to his department. (Just ask the recalled U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, now cooling her heels in a fellowship despite a stellar career.) Trump himself has said that he prefers an administration filled with acting officials because they’re easier to push around. Next best, apparently, is an empty chair — witness this administration’s remarkable number of them. Rather than a fully staffed, well-resourced corps of civil servants sworn to uphold the Constitution, he wants a tiny band of loyalists bound by omertà.

President Teddy Roosevelt once described an efficient and professional civil service as a “powerful implement with which to work for the moral regeneration of our public life.” Trump, sadly, seems intent on degrading the quality of America’s civil service — and using it for the opposite purpose.

President Roosevelt might be shedding tears. Not only is Trump ruining the diplomatic corps but he’s dismantling parts of the government charged recommending policies based on scientific research. Miranda Green, reports in The Hill, via Reader Supported News: White House Eliminates Advisory Boards for Marine Life, Invasive Species.

The discontinuation the committees as well as the end of the work of the various scientists and academics on them comes as the Trump administration has called for cutting at least one-third of all advisory panels. …

So, as I’ve written before, Trump can be understood with a simple formula: X/AntiX. If you would destroy an entity X (in this case the government), pick a leader who is AntiX. Then sit back and watch the carnage. As Rick Wilson put it, Trump Is Going to Burn Down Everything and Everyone, and Republicans, That Means You. That press conference was terrifying. And congressional Republicans should be more afraid than anyone. Trump’s going down and taking them with him.

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