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14 May 2017

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Bill Herschel

Once again, doesn't it all depend on the results of the midterm elections? Trump will last till then, because enough Congressmen and Senators are owned outright by big money types, who are drooling over Trump, that none will vote to impeach. Please remember that equation: if money is pouring into your political coffers from the one group who has absolutely no problem with Trump at all (cf. AHCA, tax "reform"...), you're not going to impeach him.

But if the number of ladies of the night in Congress is reduced, then Trump will go. And he will resign the second he is impeached. There will be no trial. Then he gets to say he was a victim.

His core constituency which shows absolutely no sign of abandoning him is the wild card.

Jackrabbit

Q: How one views Trump depends of what one thinks is the goal of the borg/establishment.

Is Trump there because there are powerful people that want peace? Or is he a shiny object (to the Russians and Western public)?

Obama also wanted peace. So so much. He planned 'resets' and 'new dawns', etc. And his apologists vigorously defended his sly mendacity.

I think we have been had. Lucy will pull the football again. Exactly how that happens is just a detail: whether Trump caves in or is removed hardly matters.

I wish it would be different. But the Syrian bombing was shocking. He didn't have to do it. And then, after bombing due to the "beautiful babies", to be silent when the rebel's killed dozens of children only days later was atrocious.

Is it really possible to elect an outsider when Western politics is so driven by monied interests? If Sanders was a sheep-dog and DNC colluded to ensure Hillary's election, how can we trust that Trump (was supported Hillary in 2008, and whose beloved daughter is close to Chelsea Clinton) was also colluding?

Trump is a guy that craves success (or at the appearance of it) and his "Presidential Show" may be his most lucrative venture yet. When he leaves, he will have hotel, golf course, and book deals that will be huuuuge.

Chris Chuba

I have become fatalistic. I hope I'm wrong but I don't think it matters whether he stays or goes. The Foreign Policy Establishment has proven itself supreme. I thought that they would try to finesse Trump with insiders but they bum rushed him and won. I am amazed by their arrogance, they had absolutely no fear of a sitting President. However, it's a Pyrrhic victory. We are the world's drunk driver. It's only a matter of time before we skid off the road. I just hope we land in a ditch instead of smash into a tree.

John_Frank

With respect, from a business perspective, the way that Mr. Comey was fired is exactly how one would handle the situation in the circumstances.

Yes, the usual suspects have latched on to the situation and ramped up the political attacks.

However, outside of the beltway media crowd, what is the rest of the country concerned about? Whether Mr. Comey was treated with the appropriate decorum or not? I do not think so.

Again, I am obliged to ask, what crime has been committed by Mr. Trump or his campaign involving the 2016 election which justifies the appointment of a special prosecutor? To date, no evidence has been presented of any such crime.

Furthermore, was not the Russian Federation punished for interfering in the 2016 election by President Obama on December 29, 2016?

EEngineer

I think you underestimate Trump. He may very well be uncouth and undiplomatic, but there appears to be a method to the madness. Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, has been on to his game from the beginning. I think that at this point, a sizable fraction of the populous has become so disenchanted with the Borg/status quo, that they will tolerate nearly anyone who opposes it. No mater how odious. So long as that is true, an impeachment vote is career suicide.

The Comey firing was high theater. It put the opposition off balance and made many others wonder if they could be next. It was not an impromptu event, it was thought out and executed for maximum effect.

John_Frank

Exposed: FBI Director James Comey’s Clinton Foundation Connection
http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/09/10/exposed-fbi-director-james-comeys-clinton-foundation-connection/

Fredw

Two things have to happen for Trump to be ousted:
1. The American people have to be willing to accept it. For that to happen, the campaign of anti-Trump agitation has to penetrate into the Republican voter base. So far that does not seem to be happening. In spite of all the anecdotes, the voters who supported him still do. That can be a very hard thing to change, both because of partisan inertia and because he is still giving them things that they like.
2. Trump and the Republican party have to split. In theory that should not be hard to arrange. They really don't have much in common. But the practical fact is that he owns most of their voters. He won't go easily, and if he does then he will take most of their voters with him. So I don't forsee the Republican establishment breaking with him. Him breaking with them is another story. That is easily imaginable. But who knows?

I appreciate your lack of certainty. There is far too much certainty going around on both sides of the partisan divide about things that are really not known. The nature of Trump and politics is such that rumor and leaks get mistaken for facts by many people who should know better. I too think I see patterns and a direction. But I am constantly reminded how little I know and how much of that little is based on people pushing their own interests.

I find it useful to consider the administration of Dennis Kucinich (of all people!) as mayor of Cleveland. It is not easy to suddenly find yourself in a position of power without a network of people you trust supporting you! I have never heard anyone claim that Kucinich was dishonest or shallow or anything like that. (I heard lots of other things.) But it is very difficult to get things running smoothly when you don't respect or trust any of the people who have been doing the work before. I don't think Trump has trust or respect for any of the Washington establishment, Republican, Democrat, or bureaucrat. And I am not at all sure that he is wrong.

TV

Couldn't have said it better.
Trump spends his waking hours shooting himself in the foot.
He was NEVER a manager (in spite of the TV show).
He is a real estate deal-maker, salesman, entertainer, egomaniac, but NOT a manager.
People skills are terrible - not a manager.
But you know what?
If the election were held again, I'd still vote for Trump - holding my nose.
Why?
Neil Gorsuch, border security, tax cuts (hopefully).
And outside of the beltway establishment, not that many people care that Comey got fired, much less how.

John_Frank

Senator Schumer is now saying that the Democrats will not vote to confirm a new FBI Director until the President appoints a special prosecutor.

However, that begs the question, to prosecute what? To date no evidence has been presented that Mr. Trump or anyone on his campaign committed any crime in relation to the 2016 Presidential primary or general election.

In fact, the acting FBI Director testified under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week that the White House has not interfered in the investigation and the deputy Attorney-General told the same committee that he saw no need for the appointment of a special prosecutor

Yes, Lt. Gen. Flynn (ret.) may not have complied with the disclosure laws on a timely basis, but he no longer works for the President.

True, Paul Manafort may or may not have been involved in some dealings with the Ukrainians that expose him to liability, but those issues have nothing to do with the primary or election and he resigned from the campaign when the issue first surfaced.

There is also a claim that Mr. Manafort may have received a favorable financial arrangement in exchange for him recommending someone to be the next Army Secretary. However, on its face the case does not hold much water, and has nothing to do with the President, nor his campaign.

Jack

PT

I don't recall you posting before the elections. Curious, what your forecast was? The vast majority of the correspondents including me did not predict a Trump win. Although there were a fair number of us that did vote for him. Tyler won a bet with GCP. And he was spot on right through the primary and the general election.

You forecast - "Trump will not finish his first term. The only question is when will he be forced out or call it quits." IMO, you will be proven wrong. We'll know soon enough I suppose.

John LeDell

Impeachment is a huge political loser for Democrats. It would make Trump the victim and his popularity would soar. Remember Clinton became more popular after his impeachment. If Democrats try to impeach Trump before 2020, Trump is a likely winner of being elected again. I suspect the Democrats will try to win one or both chambers of Congress in 2018 and thus tie Trump in knots over any legislation he wants. This will make him so angry, his mouth and emotions will trigger lots of stupid moves and almost guarantee the Democrats winning in 2020.

John_Frank

What a breathless media got wrong about Trump, Comey and Russia this week http://circa.com/politics/accountability/stories-the-news-media-got-wrong-about-donald-trump-james-comey-and-Russia … (h/t @SharylAttkisson)

"There are 6 or less targets of grand jury Trump-Russia probe & none are senior admin officials." --@Circa

By Sharyl Attkisson - 12 Times Dems/Repubs said no evidence of Trump collusion with Russia https://sharylattkisson.com/11-times-dems-repubs-said-no-evidence-of-trump-russia-collusion-10-times-people-claimed-there-was/

BraveNewWorld

If there was something fatal about the Comey firing, it was when Trump went on TV and said he did it to shut down the Russia investigation. That is text book obstruction of justice. I don't think any thing will actually come of it because the Republicans control every thing, but yowzers that was a brutal mistake.

Talking about tapes was also a brutal mistake. Some one is going to demand them for one of the investigations then he either has to produce them or admit they don't exist. Neither one is good for him.

Ghostship

Trump lost one skirmish and he's lost the war? Nah, now he knows who his enemies are and he seems quite a vindictive old bastard. It's only just getting started.

O'Bryan

It seems that the Comey decision, and subsequent fallout, are a symptom of the larger problem. In the Economist interview the president said he was going to "pull out of NAFTA". He just decided to do it. That day. Then he got a call from Justin Trudeau he asked him to negotiate. Amazingly, 10 minutes later, he got a call from the Mexican president asking him the same thing, using the same words. Of course he had to say yes he was willing to negotiate. He appeared to be quite pleased with himself that he was flexible and relented to their requests.
A couple of days later it was leaked that he was genuinely going to suddenly get rid of the treaty. That very day and the White House staff went into full damage prevention mode. Calls were made to Canada and Mexico. Return calls to DT were immediately arranged. Sonny Perdue was contacted and he hurriedly put together a map of the counties that voted for the president and a map(overlay) that showed the rural agricultural areas that would be seriously affected by such a rash move. He immediately went to the White House to talk him off the edge of the cliff. The calls and the meeting with the Agriculture Secretary averted a potential, self-inflicted, catastrophe. Most people will agree that NAFTA needs to be reworked and possibly replaced. Waking up one day and pulling out would send shock waves through the financial system that could have had disastrous consequences.

Every day that goes by gives the President another opportunity to impulsively act in a way that he appears to have no idea of what the outcome will be. He seems incapable of preparing for the eventualities that face him and the nation. Only one foreign ambassador has been confirmed. Only a handful have been nominated. None have submitted the paperwork necessary for confirmation. There are zero confirmation hearings scheduled. No FEMA director. 114 days since inauguration and the basics are being ignored. Do we have the proper people in place to handle the inevitable crisis that could be just around the corner?


robt willmann

Donald Trump is not going to resign as president. James Comey was not going to resign as FBI Director. Trump could have handled the dismissal in a better political way, since the environment in which he is operating is governmental politics. But Comey said in his letter to FBI employees that he thought the director could be removed for no reason by the president: "I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all."

A big issue is inching forward, but the mass media and Borg will not be pushing it because it involves former president Barack Obama and domestic surveillance. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is asking, in his low key but persistent way, whether he was spied upon by the Obama administration when he ran for president or otherwise, as he sends another letter to the two top dogs on the Senate "Intelligence" Committee--

https://www.paul.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/SurveillanceFollowUpLetter.pdf

Sen. Paul includes this curious sentence in his letter: "Specific to these allegations, I am requesting a clear answer on whether your committee received a Gates notice related to me or to members of my staff".

Hmmm...a "Gates notice". At 42 seconds into this interview with Sean Hannity, Sen. Paul talks about a Gates notice--

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REQ2M4QBdhE

In a TV interview with Maria Bartiromo, Sen. Paul says that reporters have told him that the Obama administration was looking at his private information and likely that of others running for president in the 2016 election, and, further, that: "I know one other senator, who has already confided to me that he was surveilled by the Obama administration, including his phone calls."--

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPm3g1R4NMM

This brings back to mind the interview on the PBS Newshour television program in August 2013 about NSA domestic surveillance with William Binney and Russell Tice, with the host Judy Woodruff. Only part of the eight and a half minute interview was broadcast on television, with the most salient parts edited out. However, the full interview is here--

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJS7F-mShpI

In the very unlikely event that the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives starts an impeachment inquiry about Trump, here is a February 1974 report/treatise from the committee entitled "Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment", put out during the Richard Nixon episode--

https://lofgren.house.gov/uploadedfiles/constitutional_grounds_for_presidential_impeachment_-_house_judiciary_comm_staff_report_february_1974.pdf

Lemur

The last poll results i saw showed few Trump voters regretted pulling the lever for Trump, but many of Clintonistas had second thoughts. I doubt firing someone Republicans perceive as an impediment to their program will dent Trump's popularity.

The Democratic Party is already in collapse. They've lost governships, the base is fracturing, paranoid conspiracy rules their mindset, and what leadership still exists is aging out. They're in no position to challenge Trump, particularly after Trump ingratiated himself with the standard issue GOP by lobbing some missiles at Syria.

As for the Comey firing itself, sundance at CTH maps out the context that led to this which makes it seem more like a Trump counter move than an impromptu dismissal.

https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2017/05/12/president-trump-drops-another-moab-media-missing-sally-yates-and-james-comey-timeline/

Old political paradigms of 'toxicity' no longer apply. Toxicity implies factions give a damn about one another. Trump represents the fracturing of American society breaching the surface of visible politics. Institutions of governance no longer offer a ground for group cooperation toward a common good; they are sites for struggle without resort to mass civil unrest.

'Nothing, says Rousseau, 'can replace mores for the maintenance of government. By reason alone,none cannot establish any natural law.'

We shall see how long pro forma 'sacred honour' can endure when predicated on sheer narrative will to power.

doug

It's quite apparent that DJT actually believed that the deputy AG's, legitimately scathing review of Comey's handling of the HRC email would be received as proffered. But it would be so unlike DJT that it failed within hours. Really, no one believed it. So he's a liar. Well, nothing new about presidents lying. But to do so that transparently says a lot about how completely stupid he thinks people are. I was hoping he was a bit more savvy than that but obviously I was wrong.

And for DJT to accuse Comey of showboating and grandstanding after firing him in the manner he did? Pot, meet Kettle.

Sad, tragic even, as much of what DJT advocated was needed and a refreshing change from business as usual. Being POTUS is, I'm afraid, not within his area of competence.

As for how long he'll last, I predicted last summer that he had to be assimilated by the borg or he wouldn't last 6 months. He caved to them in some ways but his personality doesn't permit the necessary fealty and worse, he has demonstrated behavior that, I believe, will result in eventual rejection by the public at large. As it is I suspect a rather large percentage of his own appointees don't trust him. Not a happy place.

Integrity is a personal attribute but personal loyalty is earned. Even excluding those that already disliked him or are political opponents, he is squandering support by his own actions.

As for his supporters, aligning cognitive dissonance only works up to a point then, when it reaches it's limits, the results are not pretty.

There is a slim chance he can revert this swan dive into the abyss but it's getting smaller by the day.

Lefty

Six months after the election Trump's base does not seem to be eroding. Unless that changes it is unlikely either impeachment or a Dem wave in '18 will happen.

Last summer only 11% of Trump supporters thought life was better for people like them than it was 50 years ago. Today it is 41%, almost four times as many. When reality catches up those numbers will recede, but it is not happening yet.

I thought Comey needed to go last July so I'm happy he's gone. The graceless and apparently impetuous way it was done sucks. That does not seem to phase Trump supporters, and may be more of the "Sock it to 'em" that has been part of his appeal. Who'd have guessed a recurring "Laugh In" theme would become presidential operating policy 50 years later.

stats: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-clinton-supporters-poll-life-better-worse_us_59161b74e4b00f308cf542cc?section=us_politics

Ingolf Eide

PT,

I'm with John Frank and EEngineer in suspecting you may be missing the signal amidst all the noise.

To my mind the really critical question is whether the campaign Trump was a fake. In trying to answer that, the Syrian strike was for many the final straw; he'd been co-opted, it was all a con . . . whatever. That may still turn out to be true but I think the evidence suggests otherwise.

Under cover of all this chaos, much of it (I suspect) deliberately created, there's quite a bit happening and most of it seems to be in line with his promises. Just on the foreign policy front:

- Tillerson recently talked to State Department staff and quietly signalled a revolution in US foreign policy. American values were to be separated from policy and not imposed or demanded as a condition of good relations, while cooperation was to be sought wherever possible. Not a single mention of exceptionalism and very little about the military. He simply noted its value in being able to speak from "a posture of strength -- not a threatening posture, a posture of strength."

- Syrian policy aims seem to be shifting towards something more in line with Russia's. Eradication of terrorist groups, reconciliation wherever possible of other rebel groups with the Syrian government, no current talk of Assad having to go, and cautious participation in the Astana process.

- Trump welcomed Lavrov (and Kislyak) to the Oval Office at more or less the same time as he was firing Comey. Hard to see this as an accident.

And so on. If it's all reversed then you're probably right, but given these moves are in line with Trump's campaign pitch it seems to me reasonable for now to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The noisiness of Trump's opposition seems inversely correlated to the quality of the decisions being made so we should probably take the current level of hysteria as a good sign.

Lefty

Perhaps Comey as distraction from a policy change in Syria? Russian foreign minister Lavrov in D.C. last week made not much of a ripple, very little of the usual hysteria. All anyone was freaked about was that a Russian photographer was let into the oval office.

It's a less expensive way to change the subject than 59 cruise missiles (Where did the majority of those go? Reportedly 23 hit the air base and 36 did not).

Tyler

PT,

This is one of your weaker columns. If you're feeling froggy, you can bet me that Trump won't finish his term because of impeachment.

Mikey

I have had heard the word manager mentioned several times lately. Nations don't need managers at the top, they need leaders.

anon

Russia, in particular, could respond aggressively, Bremmer added. Given that the ICIJ was partially funded by billionaire George Soros' Open Society Foundation, the Kremlin may seek to punish the U.S., Soros and the CIA, he noted.

"This is going to make Russian policy towards the U.S. even more antagonistic." Bremmer believes the $2 billion linked to people close to President Putin was just "a tiny fraction of what the Kremlin has actually been laundering."

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/04/panama-papers-leak-spells-danger-for-offshore-tax-havens.html

one year later and things are getting jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjummmppppppyyy

Bill H

Impeach and convict Trump, and then the Democrats have Pence. Talk about a Pyrrhic victory!

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