Three Weeks In

Original photo by Marc Nozell, used via Creative Commons license. Click on photo for original.

Once again presented in Q&A format, as it will contain actual questions that people have asked me. Let’s get to it:

Ugh. I can’t even anymore.

And yet again we start with a comment, not a question. Also, sorry, you have to even, just like the rest of us, and get this: He’s not even president yet. We still have two months of transition to go.

Did you see he’s tweeting again?

I did, in fact.

Why the hell don’t they pry his phone from his hands? 

Who is “they”? And why would they? He won the presidency. They don’t need to worry about him losing votes anymore. There’s no downside to letting him rant his ass off, and certainly Trump doesn’t want to stop doing what’s worked for him so far. I mean, look at the shit he tweeted while he was running. And yet he’s president. There is essentially no risk for him tweeting at this point.

But he lies in every goddamn tweet!

Yes, and? At this point everyone should simply assume, to paraphrase a famous snark, that every word Trump tweets is a lie, including “and” and “the.” This is part and parcel with assuming basically everything Trump says is a lie, since Politifact and every other fact-checking group out there notes that he lied more than any other candidate in the 2016 campaign.

Again, why should he change? It’s worked out so far for him. You should have it as a baseline assumption that Trump will lie as much as he possibly can, when it suits him, which is always. Trump lies. It’s who he is. It’s who he will be. It’s what his administration will be, too.

Did I mention that I can’t even anymore?

Yes you did. I sympathize. Even so.

What do you think about the idea that Trump tweets stupid and/or outrageous things to distract from the other horrible things he’s doing? 

Aside from the point that anytime I see someone yelling at me on Twitter about how Trump is trying to distract us from this other thing over here, I immediate think fuck you, pal, my brain has the ability to follow more than one thing at a fucking time, I think it gives him too much credit, since there is nothing that we’ve seen of him to suggest that he’s anything other than a wailing id with poor impulse control. I think he tweets what he wants to tweet when he wants to tweet it, and simultaneously, his incoming administration is so horrifyingly bad and has such awful plans that it gives the appearance that Trump must be blathering nonsense to hide the horribleness that those things represent. The thing is, that horribleness isn’t actually hidden; it’s being industriously reported on. All that horribleness is out there, standing straight and tall. These aren’t actually sneaky people. They are openly and unapologetically horrible. And why wouldn’t they be? Trump won the election.

But he lost the popular vote! He has no mandate!

Oh, my sweet summer child. I think it’s adorable that you think this fact will in any way impede Trump, his horrible lackeys, or the GOP majority in congress in any way. “No mandate” means shit when you have clear paths to legislative and executive power. And no, to repeat from last week, the recounts and audits probably won’t change that; indeed, when they’re done and Trump is still president-elect, he and his party pals will take it as even more confirmation that they should do whatever the hell they want.

What do you think of the idea that when Trump tweeted about having won the popular vote if you discount illegal voting, he was signalling that he intends to ratchet up voting restrictions?

I think that’s a stretch, and also I fully expect voting restrictions to ratchet up.

Follow: Trump is a thin-skinned narcissist and sexist who can’t possibly conceive of having lost the popular vote to a girl, and he lives in the GOP bubble where vote fraud is happening every day and is largely defined as “brown people voting,” and considers Alex Jones a credible purveyor of facts, because he’s a fucking ignoramus. So that tweet just came barreling out of him. With that said, given that the GOP’s modus operandi is to suppress voting by making it difficult for minorities to vote, and the fact that Trump is a racist whose racist chief adviser thinks not letting black people vote isn’t a bad idea (except for the ones he knows personally, that’s different, they’re family, so good news, minorities! You just have to have a white man vouch for you to vote!), if you don’t think more voting restrictions aren’t about to come down the pike, you’re a fool. Not for me, mind you; I’m a white male landowner. But for everyone not like me.

The tweets weren’t a signal, or more accurately, are only a signal if you weren’t already paying attention. Trump is racist, sexist, selfish, tauntable and deluded, all of which was already known. His tweets certainly reflect that, but they’re not really revealing anything we didn’t already know. Trump has been in the media eye for decades now. We know who he is. None of this is surprising. And he’s a 70 year old man who hasn’t ever been penalized for being exactly who he is. Anyone still expecting him to change — to “pivot” — is delusional.

Basically: If you’re tea-reading his tweets for policy hints, you know, maybe read the decades of available journalism on him instead.

Any thoughts on his cabinet picks? Besides “horrible”?

No, not really. Trump appears to be picking people for positions primarily with three criteria in mind: That they’re rich, loyal and that they fundamentally disagree with the mission of the governmental department they will soon be in charge of. They’re basically your standard modern-day GOP cabinet picks with the knob twisted all the way over to 11. To be clear, I don’t think many of Trump’s cabinet picks should be confirmed — I’m particularly thinking of the proposed Secretary of Education, who appears to despise the concept of public education, and also appears to be entirely on board with the concept of “pay to play” when it comes to public officials — but I also expect them to be confirmed, as again, these choices are in line with current GOP thinking about government, which is that it exists to give tax cuts to rich people and not much else.

I should also be clear that I expect this to be the most overtly and unapologetically incompetent and corrupt administration in modern history because a) Trump doesn’t seem to know anyone who doesn’t appear to be corrupt and incompetent, b) the GOP at this point doesn’t appear to have much interest in stopping the Trump administration from being corrupt and incompetent, I suspect because fundamentally it being so will aid in the modern GOP vision of government as noted above. I also expect it to pursue unabashedly racist, sexist and homophobic policies, which the GOP will also support because it works for that vision of government, and also caters to the GOP base of both latently and actively racist and homophobic voters. So, you know. Buckle in, kids, it’s gonna be a long four years.

You don’t like the GOP much, do you, Scalzi?

Nope. I should note that I am grateful that at least some Republicans and/or conservatives appear to have drawn a line in the ethical and philosophical sand with regard to the Trump administration, regardless of how I might disagree with them politically; John Kasich, Evan McMullin and Ana Navarro are three notable examples, although there are more out there. The question is whether there are any of these philosophical line-drawers in congress, or, if there are, if there are enough of them to counter a Trump administration’s worst excesses. At this point, I doubt it.

And again, make no mistake that the GOP wants the ACA thrown out, would be happy to dismantle or “privatize” (i.e., render into a cash cow for pals) Medicare and Social Security, and generally turn women, minorities and queer and poor folks back second-class citizens who have fewer rights than well-off straight white men. Why? Well, because fuck you is why; any rigorous (although still in my opinion incorrect) philosophical rationale for any of this was tossed overboard years ago. I can’t even say I disagree with the tenets of the modern Republican party anymore because it doesn’t have any. What it has now is Trump, his passel of grifters and bigots, and its own lack of moral center. That’s it. What’s to like?

Give us hope, man!

Ugh, fine: One, the filibuster may survive, giving Democrats in the senate the ability to check some of the worst of the Trump administration/GOP’s excesses; Two, 2018 is coming and it’s possible the Trump administration will be so awful so fast that the mid-terms will give the Democrats control of at least one of the chambers (note however, that the 2018 senate map is challenging for the Dems); Three, the courts may overturn some of the worst of any new laws.

Hey, think Obama will appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court because the senate refused to advise and consent?

No.

But he totally could!

And monkeys might fly out of my butt, but that’s also extremely unlikely to happen. You know, folks, Obama’s a reasonably smart dude. I do think he understands that the power of the Supreme Court vests entirely in the fact that everyone agrees that it has any power at all, going back to when John Marshall pulled Marbury v. Madison out of his ass and everyone went yeah, okay, fine.

So, question for you: Do you think Donald Trump, a fatuous ignoramus of a man who clearly has no interest in the actual democratic structures of the United States government, will feel obliged to give any credence to a Supreme Court that he, not to mention the entire GOP, which I will remind you currently holds the senate, believes has a philosophical majority that was achieved through underhanded means? Go ahead, take your time here, there’s no rush.

Obama may yet surprise me and place Garland on the Supreme Court. But I think it’s more likely that Trump will appoint the next justice, the GOP-led senate will confirm whoever that is, and having done so, both will at least theoretically be more resistant to ignoring the court entirely if they do not get their way, thus avoiding an actual collapse of a functioning “checks and balances” government, plunging us headlong into possible, actual autocracy.

Uh, I didn’t think of that.

I think a lot of anti-Trump folks are still in the “bargaining” stage, and are still casting about for the magic bullet that will stop Trump from being Trump. And again, while I sympathize, I cannot recommend doing anything other than working from the assumption that Trump will be president come January 20th, and that a lot of what has to be done at this point is fucking child-proofing the government so that the damage is minimized. I suspect Obama is doing a lot of that at the moment, within the scope of his abilities.

Do you think we’re actually heading into an autocracy?

Honestly, no. Our system of government has survived 240 years and some crises rather more substantial than Trump (see: Civil War). And remember that Trump is still riding his victory wave, as much as someone who is as unpopular as he is has one; he hasn’t had to do anything, and he’s had no repercussions for his policies or actions. He’s won the presidency, but being president is another thing entirely. No matter how much of the actual governance he farms out to Mike Pence, it’s still his administration. I think if and when he begins to fail, he’s going to find himself constrained, especially if the GOP, as feckless as it is in its current iteration, no longer sees an advantage in hanging with him.

This is not to suggest complacency, mind you. Trump can do (and one may suggest already has done) a lot of damage to the system simply by being Trump, and remember that he has no particular love or respect for the democratic processes. Nor can his top advisers be relied upon to remind him of constraints, nor in the very short run, at least, will the GOP rein in his most autocratic tendencies. I don’t think we’re heading into an autocracy, but then I didn’t think Trump would be president, so, you know. Maybe don’t be reassured by me on this matter.

Also, be aware that our enemies have been given a huge gift to enable Trump’s autocratic drive, and that Trump’s party pals will be happy to exploit the shit out of it when the time comes.

Wait, what?

Let me put it this way: If I were a person or business who owned or leased space in a Trump owned/operated/branded building? Yeah, I would get out of that lease, like, yesterday, because those things are huge fucking targets now. Shit, I wouldn’t even book a room at Trump hotel (not that I would anyway at this point, and no, rebranding them as “Scion” won’t matter a bit). There isn’t a terrorist organization out there that doesn’t realize that Trump, being Trump, would consider an attack on a building bearing his name the same as someone coming up and punching him directly in the dick. If you wanted to goad our future president into doing something stupid, and/or manufacture an excuse to curtail civil rights here in this country down to a nub, well, there you are.

Jesus, don’t tell them that!

Guys, I don’t know how to break this to you, but both the terrorists and the “I am so ready to introduce actual fascism!” cadre of Trump lieutenants are already waaaaaay ahead of all of the rest of us on this one.

But even if we don’t get there — even if by some miracle a Trump property isn’t reduced to a pile of girders or shot up like Swiss cheese, and to be very clear, I hope neither ever happens — the Trump administration and its enablers are going to make a mad gallop out of the gate to do a whole bunch of awful things, to overwhelm you with sheer volume right at the outset. You need to prepare, and plan, and (among many other things) tell your elected representatives to grow a spine. Remember that Trump was not the choice of most people who voted. It doesn’t mean he’s not president, and it doesn’t mean he cares about “mandates.” But it’s not chopped liver, either, and you should remind your elected officials of that.

Well, this wasn’t a very cheerful entry, was it?

Sorry. But I hope I’ve made the point that we don’t have to go all the way to actual autocracy for things to get very bad. And that “at least some kind of awful” is the best we can expect out of Trump and his party pals at this point.

He could get impeached, maybe?

Dude, time to get out of the “bargaining” phase.

But I already told you that I can’t even.

You have to even. We need you to even, out there with all the rest of us.

One thought on “Three Weeks In

  1. Folks, I’m on the road today and when I’m off the road, I’ll be doing things offline and have no time for thread moderating, and then tomorrow I’m back on the road again to come home, so this is my way of saying this particular entry will not have comments on. Don’t worry, it won’t be the usual thing when it comes to political threads. Just for this one.

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