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This is Alec Baldwin, isn’t it?

He’s no Nixon

I got out a bit of a kick out of this article (My First Big Boy Trip), at Slate. Trump is quite like a spoiled child. It got me to thinking.

Back during Nixon’s downfall I was a law student, living at home in Hartford. On many an evening I would trek to a friend’s house a few blocks away. We would get stoned and almost inevitably talk about Nixon. He was an endlessly fascinating character. We weren’t the only ones, I’m sure, who spent endless hours trying to plumb his depths. There are no depths there when it comes to Trump.

The Trump phenomenon poses a far greater threat to the Republic than Nixon ever did, but Trump himself holds no fascination. Assuming the republic survives, it will be hard for anyone to make a movie about him without turning it into a dark comedy. Both Anthony Hopkins and Rip Torn, among others, brilliantly portrayed the complicated Nixon. It’s hard to believe anyone could improve, or would want to try to improve, on Alec Baldwin when it comes to Trump. There’s nothing Shakespearean about him, as there was about Nixon. Nixon seemed to struggle Macbeth-like, with his demons. Trump lashes out like a spoiled child.

I guess it’s true that history repeats itself, once as Greek tragedy, and once as farce.

Poor Piglet

Poor Us.

Everything is the opposite of what it is, isn’t it?

I once bought a Playboy publication. And I really did buy it just for the interviews, because it was a paperback collection of the best interviews up to that time (circa 1981). The Mel Brooks interviews were hilarious, by the way. But, I digress yet again.

One of the interviews was with John and Yoko, done just a few weeks before he was assassinated. In the interview, Lennon quoted Harry Nilsson to the following effect: “Everything is the opposite of what it is, isn’t it”. As that’s the title of this post, you can see I’m getting to the point.

So that quote came to mind when I stumbled on this a few hours ago:

Senator Elizabeth Warren had a confounding exchange with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at a Senate Banking Committee hearing today. Mnuchin indicated that the Trump administration supports a 21st century version of the Glass-Steagall Act, except for the part about separating commercial and investment banks, which is substantially what is meant by Glass-Steagall.

Warren wasn’t having it.

Responding to Mnuchin’s earlier testimony that the White House didn’t support “a separation of banks from investment banks,” the Massachusetts senator pointed out that “The president and this administration have repeatedly said that they support a 21st century Glass-Steagall.”

Indeed, Mnuchin said these words in his confirmation hearings. National Economic Director Gary Cohn has said the same. And the 2016 Republican Party platform adds explicitly, “We support reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 which prohibits commercial banks from engaging in high-risk investment.” As Warren said to Mnuchin, “Now you’ve just said the opposite.”

Mnuchin responded that there wasn’t any reversal, despite Warren’s incredulity. He said that the administration merely supported a 21st century version of the law. “Which means there are aspects of it, OK, that we think may make sense. But we never said before that we supported a full separation —”

“There are aspects of Glass-Steagall that you support but not breaking up the banks and separating commercial banking from investment banking?” Warren interrupted. “What do you think Glass-Steagall was if that’s not right at the heart of it?”

While the Glass-Steagall Act was part of a larger bill, the Banking Act of 1933, which also created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, for about 80 years it’s been pretty clear that “Glass-Steagall” refers to the firewall between commercial and investment banking. There are no real “aspects” of the policy to pick from without that fundamental structure.

via The Intercept

So, the 21st Century Glass-Steagall is the opposite of what it is, or at least of what it purports to be. I’m not sure Nilsson was right at the time he uttered those words, but it’s a pretty fair description of the situation at present. I’m too lazy to catalogue all the additional examples, but here’s one that just occurred to me. You know that a piece of legislation is designed to screw the consumer when the industries pushing it call it pro-consumer, an example of that being their labeling mandatory arbitration clauses pro-consumer. The way was prepared for Donald Trump by the right’s destruction of language and meaning, and it truly has engaged in a determined push to make everything the opposite of what it is.

So far, so good

There are times when it feels good to admit you were wrong, and this is one of those times. When the Comey thing broke I said it would be forgotten by the following weekend, but at least so far, it is still front and center. Of course, the Donald, in his own childish way, has done all he can to keep it there, but nonetheless, it is the case that it continues to have repercussions.

So, now I’m grappling with another question. Would it be better for Trump to be impeached and convicted (or removed due to mental illness) or left to hang on and drag the entire Republican Party into the garbage with him. We must, after all, bear in mind that Pence is every bit as bad as Trump, and would probably be more effective in doing a host of bad things. I’m really not sure, but it occurs to me that if Trump were impeached or removed, he would lash out at his tormenters, who would (given their majority status) be Republicans by definition. He would likely enjoy nothing more than holding rallies with his adoring fans, stirring up anger against the Republicans who did him in. All he need do to hand the Congress to the Democrats is dampen Republican turnout be 10% or so.

On the other hand, I do fear that if he gets impeached, much of the new blood in the Resist movement will figure they have done what they set out to do and lose interest. It would be absolutely critical that they realize that Pence needs resistance too.

Comcast/MSNBC cave to pressure from Trump

A couple of weeks ago I noted that the folks on the right appeared to have a more expansive view of the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee when the person doing the speaking was a right winger. I noted at the time that no one has a right to a forum, and that denying them one was not a free speech violation. I also noted that a private employer, such as Stephen Colbert’s employer, had every right to fire an employee if they didn’t like what he or she said in the course of their employment.

Today we learn that Lawrence O’Donnell is likely going to be fired by MSNBC, despite his high ratings, in response to pressure from the White House:

Showbiz 411 reported, “My NBC sources say that O’Donnell’s tireless criticism of Donald Trump is the cause of the trouble. O’Donnell calls Trump a liar on TV almost every night. Says my observer: “Phil Griffin fought back Trump’s demands to Comcast chief Steve Burke that O’Donnell get fired for years. But now he’s president and now it’s Andy Lack’s decision and Andy has never run a single promo for O’Donnell and he wants access to Trump for Lester Holt interview and more.”

Vvia Politicus USA

We can expect deafening silence about this from the right. If, in fact, MSNBC is responding to pressure from the White House, then this situation does come close to an infringement of O’Donnell’s right to free speech, because there is state action involved in the firing. My guess is that it’s a close call, but it’s far closer to a free speech issue than the type of things about which the right typically complains. There is a petition at Americablog aiming to save O’Donnell’s job. I feel I’m being a bit fraudulent for signing it, since I don’t own a TV, but my wife and I do watch his show if we happen to be staying at an inn or hotel.

If this embed code works you may be able to sign the petition here:

I’m with Lawrence O’Donnell

Target: MSNBC

Sign This Petition





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Action by: John Aravosis
Sponsored by: AMERICAblog

Ho-Hum, Yet another impeachable offense

When I began this feature I figured it would be manageable. My objective was to catalogue each impeachable offense so that it might be a handy resource for anyone who didn’t keep track. I figured maybe one offense a week, which would be totally manageable.

Before I go on, and for the record, firing Comey to stop the Russia investigation and asking Comey to stop the investigation were both impeachable offenses. I may have alluded to the first in prior posts, but not the second.

But, to my main point. I can’t keep up. I’ve got a life to llve and a day job. Trump is literally committing at least one impeachable offense a day that we know of. And I mean that word “literally” in its original sense of… you know…, actually, really, exactly, precisely, etc. This really has to stop. Maybe when he’s away on his travels he won’t have time to commit any crimes and I can take a break, but once he’s back he’ll revert to form. I can’t take it.

I should add that I still hold out little hope that he’ll actually be impeached, and I’m not sure I want him to be impeached. I can recall thinking at a very early point during Watergate that it had all the elements of a Greek tragedy, and that Nixon’s fall was inevitable. I never wavered in my belief that one way or another, he wouldn’t serve out his term. Conditions in the Congress were quite different then. I imagine some present day Republicans might want to get rid of Trump, but they are terrified of the monster base they have created. For my part, I’m not sure that we’d be better off with Pence, who would be as bad as Trump on policy but would play the presidential role much better. The relatively harmless Gerald Ford was quite a different story.

Anyway, here’s hoping that Trump gets today’s offense over quickly, and then takes a break while he’s overseas.

UPDATE: I guess I’m not the only one thinking about Greek Tragedies, but really, this account makes it sound more like a badly written sitcom.

Some tiny reason to hope

This poll makes fun reading. I’ll be the first to admit that polls mean very little this early into the four year cycle (the term “administration” doesn’t seem appropriate for the incompetent horror show we are enduring).

I have a good friend who has someone with whom he must deal on a daily basis (not his spouse, I hasten to add) that is as committed to Trump now as she was when she voted for him, despite the shitstorm of the last few months. I argued to him that these people will hang on as long as they can, but at some point, they’ll crack. Bush had his Katrina, after all. This poll supplies at least some support for my view, though it’s hardly conclusive:

It’s very early, but Trump trails by wide margins in hypothetical match ups for reelection. He does particularly poorly against Joe Biden (54/40 deficit) and Bernie Sanders (52/39 deficit.) There’s significant defection from people who voted for Trump in November in each of those match ups- 15% of Trump voters say they’d choose Sanders over him and 14% say they’d choose Biden over him.

Trump also trails Elizabeth Warren (49/39), Al Franken (46/38), and Cory Booker (46/39).

We also looked at Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s prospects if he were to run for President as a Democrat. 36% of voters see Johnson favorably to 13% with a negative view of him, although 50% of voters have no opinion about him either way. Both Democrats (38/15) and Republicans (31/17) see him positively. Johnson would lead Trump 42/37 in a prospective contest, and wins over 15% of people who supported Trump last fall.

These folks may just be looking for an excuse to bail, while saving face. They can legitimately claim that Sanders is speaking to their issues (the non-racist issues anyway), and they probably think Biden does too, though he doesn’t. In fact, they’re probably in an anyone but Hillary mode, so they can justify an about face. They may just need to be appropriate cultivated. We don’t need all of them. In fact, we just need a few in a few states, as long as our voters are allowed to vote again.It’s not easy to admit you’ve been duped by a con-artist.

Another interesting stat is the impeachment question. More people (48%) want him impeached than actually believe he won’t serve out his term. But the latter number, at 45%, is still high. As has been pointed out elsewhere, this is without any significant mention of the possibility in the mainstream media.

Again, early polling, but if this keeps up, enough Republicans may run for cover to make it impossible for Ryan to get his agenda through Congress. (Remember, Trump’s only real agenda is Trump. It’s the evil Ryan we have to block.)

Random thoughts, 2 days after the Tuesday night massacre

We are in one of those periods where things are moving a bit too fast for pundits of any stripe. I was looking through my RSS feeds a few minutes ago and came upon this post at Hullabaloo, in which Digby made the obvious point that Comey’s firing was all about Russia, adding some evidentiary proof, though as the title of the post pointed out, none was needed. So when I read it I looked to see when it was posted, and it was last night shortly before 7:00 PM.

A waste of effort, because within far less than 24 hours, Trump admitted that he intended to fire Comey regardless of what Rosenstein or anyone else had to say. He also owned up to obstructing justice, but he was unaware of doing so at the time.

My wife and I were saying earlier today that if we come out of this alive, it will be one heck of a movie. Hopefully a comedy.

In the interests of pointing something out that I haven’t seen other take note of, let me note that Trump has a habit of accusing others of sharing his faults. There are a lot of disparaging terms one could apply to Comey, but “showboat” and “grandstander” don’t appear to apply. But I can think of a certain orange tinged man to whom they might apply.

It just might be that the Democrats are getting out of their sustained defensive crouch:

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) has company in adopting a district where a Republican member of Congress won’t hold a town hall. On Monday, Maloney held his town hall in New York’s 19th Congressional District since Rep. John Faso wouldn’t, asking the crowd “Where the heck is your congressman?” And Tuesday evening, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) went to Rep. Martha McSally’s district to do the same. 

via Daily Kos

I understand they are trolling Paul Ryan too. This is the party that has refused to help some credible candidates against Ryan.

I still think that somehow Trumps recent crime will be forgotten within another 48 hours. But, who knows? Maybe he really should try shooting someone on Fifth Avenue just to see if he can get away with it.

Finally, let us pause and reflect on the upcoming death of Li’l Trumpy. If you read Bill Griffith’s Zippy comic strip, you know what I’m talking about. Personally, I don’t think Bill will pull the trigger, because he’s like the rest of us: obsessed with the fact that this small handed man holds the most important political office in the world. Maybe Li’l Trumpy will be gone, but Trump himself will haunt the strip.

A prediction

I just heard that Trump fired Comey. I can still recall the night of the Saturday Night Massacre, when Nixon fired his Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General when they refused to help him cover up Watergate. I still remember an alarmed John Chancellor, of CBS (I think it was CBS) emphasizing that “nothing like this has ever happened before”. I still remember that it was one of the events that took down Nixon, because back in those days there were still Republicans with integrity, not to mention that the Democrats were in the majority in both houses. I still remember that the massacre gave the investigations into Nixon momentum. I still remember that very day thinking that this would surely, eventually, spell the end of Nixon, who, in my naivete, I thought was the worst president we could ever possibly have.

Now, a sad prophecy. Comey will be a headline story tomorrow. By Friday, it will be forgotten. Whoever Trump nominates to manage the coverup at the FBI will be approved by the Senate. There is absolutely no chance that Trump’s crimes will ever be exposed, and even if the press is somehow able to expose the Truth, there will be no Consequences. In fact, with total control of the FBI Trump inches that much closer to total authoritarianism. He’s an incompetent at everything else, but he seems to be pretty good at destroying democracy.

I hope I’m wrong.

I wonder if Comey is still proud that he deliberately torpedoed Hillary.

By the way, I’ve put this in the Impeachable category, because it’s a crime to engage in a coverup, and that’s what this is, make no mistake about it.

UPDATE: Technically Nixon’s AG and Deputy resigned rather than obey his order to fire the Special Prosecutor. The practical effect was the same. The special prosecutor was eventually fired by Robert Bork, later nominated for, and rejected for, a seat on the Supreme Court.