Three Weeks Into Trump’s America

Hey, Scalzi! It is I, your fake interlocutor! I wish to ask you about your thoughts on Trump and the news this week!

Ugh. I mean, okay? I guess?

You don’t sound excited!

I’m at this place where I do want to talk about what’s going on with our government, and at the same time I don’t, because it’s fucking tiring and depressing to think about for longer than a tweet.

Well, you have been tweeting about politics a lot. 

Exactly — bang out 140 characters, say something snarky, and then bug the hell out. But, fine, let’s talk about stuff in a slightly-longer-than-tweet form.

Hooray! First up: Thoughts on the 9th Circuit Court stay on Trump’s Muslim ban?

Unsurprising.

That’s… not longer than a tweet.

Fine. It’s not surprising for me for two reasons. One, because the executive order was so sloppily constructed, and so clearly targeting Muslims as Muslims, that the constitutional issues with it were obvious to even a layman such as myself (Also, pro tip: If you don’t want your executive order limiting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries to be seen as an actual ban on Muslims, maybe don’t call it a ban when you tweet about it and maybe don’t have one of your pals brag about how cleverly you made a ban on Muslims without actually saying “DUDE THIS IS SO TOTALLY A MUSLIM BAN” in the executive order itself).

Two, because the administration’s argument to the 9th Circuit vis-a-vis the executive order was basically “not only should you pretend that Trump and his pals never said this was a ban elsewhere, but you shouldn’t even be able to review the constitutionality of this executive order for reasons,” followed by an attempted Jedi handwave designed to block the memory of the Constitution and two centuries of precedent regarding judicial review. Unsurprisingly! This did not work! Nor should it have. And now as a result, we have a circuit court very firmly on the record as saying that the Trump administration’s attempted rule by executive order is not going to be the fast track to blithely uncontested authoritarianism that they hoped it would be.

What about the Supreme Court?

What about it?

They could overturn the 9th!

Yeah, but they probably won’t. Even if one were to assume a standard ideological split (which I wouldn’t in this case but even so), it would be 4-4, and in the case of ties, the lower court stay would stand. But in this particular case, if SCOTUS takes it up at all, I think it’s more likely to see a 6-2 or 7-1 or even (really unlikely because Thomas is Thomas but still) a unanimous ruling because, again, one substantial part of the Trump administration’s argument is “the courts shouldn’t be able to review executive orders” — or at least this one, because national security, harumph harumph. I don’t see the Supreme Court, the highest judicial platform of our nation, saying, “oh, right, we shouldn’t do our job,” especially when told this by the nincompoops of this administration, and especially with such a bullshit, poorly-constructed executive order like this one, and especially especially when the administration’s evidence that this executive order is necessary for the protection of the nation is “trust us on this.” I mean, these motherfuckers literally cannot find light switches in the White House conference rooms.

So, really, no. I don’t see the Supreme Court siding with the Trump administration on this. Nor should they.

You’ve been wrong before.

Yes I have.

Speaking of the Supreme Court, any thoughts on Neil Gorsuch?

Uuuuuhhhh, he’s probably the best-case scenario for the Supreme Court in this particular adminstration?

But how can you say that? He’s a conservative! 

I don’t know how to break it to you, but we elected a GOP president. Also, I’m not saying he’s my choice for the Supreme Court. What I am saying is that we’re goddamned lucky Trump didn’t offer up someone from his own stable of cronies, because he doesn’t know anyone else. Gorsuch appears to be a solid, legit choice for the Court, who I am very sure will take sides on rulings that I will be entirely unhappy with.

But Merrick Garland!

Garland should be on the court, yes. He’s not. He’s not going to be.

The Democrats should block Gorsuch! Just like the GOP blocked Garland!

I don’t think that will be possible in the long run, and I think the nation is generally best served with the Court at full capacity. If they want to try, I don’t think it’s going to hurt them much, politically. But the Democrats are also in the minority in the Senate, which I suspect matters.

What do you think about Gorsuch’s “Fascism Forever” club in high school?

You know, when I was in high school, I put out a flyer for “The Elitist Club,” which I meant as a joke, but which some kids at my school signed up for, because they didn’t know it was a joke. It was an obnoxious bit of humor on my part, but that was it. Knowing that about my own past as a smug teenage dude, I’m willing to cut Gorsuch a little slack for being an asshole back in the day; his club name was even more obnoxious than mine, but as far as I know he wasn’t in fact goosestepping around the quads as a kid.

Also, as a general rule, barring actual criminal activity or an active thread of asshole behavior from then to now (see: Ted Cruz), I’m usually willing to say what happens in high school and college stays there. I did a lot of asshole things in high school and college myself; I don’t know that they’re entirely indicative of who I am as a 47-year-old person engaged in the adult world.

Thoughts on the cabinet hearings?

They’re actually going better than I expected!

But DeVos! And Sessions! And Price in the middle of the night!

The fact Mike Pence had to drag his ass over to Capitol Hill to push DeVos over into the win column is a pretty substantial thing. I would have preferred her not getting the nod, but all things considered this was a decent showing by the Democrats. Likewise Sessions, for which there was only one defection, and the vote on Price was similarly lopsided. I don’t think that vote happening in the middle of the night matters for anything, incidentally; the vote totals wouldn’t have changed, and it’s not like people didn’t find out in the morning.

Anyway, look: The Democrats are in the minority right now. If they held the Senate, things might be different, but they don’t. Be happy they seem to have found their spines. Their spine-finding is going to be important over the next few years, especially because, if memory serves, 25 of them are up for re-election in ’18.

Okay, time for some quick takes.

Do it.

Flynn talking to the Russians about sanctions?

Stupid, possibly illegal, and in any other administration would be grounds for him to be removed. He will not be removed.

Conway pimping Ivanka’s fashion brand?

Really stupid, definitely against the rules, and in any other administration would be grounds for her to be removed. She will not be removed.

Spicer lying his motherfucking ass off all the time in the press room?

Also appallingly stupid, not against rules, but again in any other administration he’d be fired. And he might eventually be fired because apparently Trump doesn’t like him much! And I suspect that on that day, he will say thank you Jesus to himself and then wander off to be a talking head and write a memoir.

I will note that of all the people in the administration, I feel sorry for Spicer the most — I think he has a thankless task where people like Flynn and Conway (and DeVos and Sessions, etc) are actively malign. But on the other hand, he took the job, so I only feel a little sorry for him, and less so every single time he opens his goddamn lying mouth.

Bannon?

Man, don’t get me started on that racist piece of shit right now. I will be here all day.

Trump: possible dementia?

This is a thing that’s going around, I know. One, I’m nowhere near qualified to make an assessment; two, you know what? I don’t want to give him an excuse for being such an awful president. Unless definitely shown otherwise by medical experts, I am going to assume that Trump is both in complete charge of his faculties, and a historically awful president.

Is Trump the Worst President Ever™?

I still hold that spot for James Buchanan, who broke the country in a way that required fighting a war to fix, and also we’re still just three weeks into this administration, so it might be a little early for definitive pronouncements. But it’s also pretty clear that just three weeks in, if Trump is not the worst president since Buchanan, it’s not for lack of trying. His administration is hopelessly corrupt, he’s incurious and a bigot, his advisers are motherfucking white nationalists who aren’t even trying to hide that fact, and he literally has no idea what he’s doing.

In a way it’s exhilarating! Because this administration is entirely outside the experience of anyone, ever — it’s never been this bad, this fast. But then, it’s easy for me to say it’s exhilarating, since I’m one of those people who will be the last to be affected by the immense damage this administration has the potential to cause, and is indeed already causing. Let’s face it: Trump and his party pals are all in for me, Mr. Straight White Rich Dude, whether I want that or not. It’s everyone else they’re screwing, especially if they have a skin shade darker than my own fish-pale pallor, and even more so if they’re Muslim.

Again: I’m embarrassed that my president and his administration are corrupt, ignorant bigots, and I’m embarrassed that when given a choice between corrupt, ignorant bigots and not corrupt ignorant bigots, enough of us decided the corrupt, ignorant bigots would somehow be a refreshing change to make the electoral college go in that direction. But here we are, and this is what we’ve got.

Do you have advice for anyone following politics these days?

Briefly, until otherwise proven:

  1. Assume any utterance from Trump is a lie and/or grossly misinformed;
  2. Assume that Trump’s lieutenants will support that lie/ignorance and add their own;
  3. Assume any executive order from Trump is unconstitutional, impractical and unvetted;
  4. Assume the guiding principle of the administration is white power;
  5. Assume the rationale for any administration initiative is “because fuck you, that’s why”;
  6. Assume the Congressional and national GOP organization is all in for each of the above;
  7. Assume this is how it’s going to be until January 20, 2021 at the earliest.

That’s pretty bleak.

Yeah, well. Welcome to your refreshing change.

Last time you wrote on Trump you said you were strangely optimistic. Would you care to revise that statement?

Nope! Three weeks in, as many people want to impeach this asshole as don’t, his unfavorables are up, and GOP congresscritters are literally running away from their constituents, who are angry as hell with what’s going on. Again — Trump and the GOP are in power right now and there’s nothing that can change that in the short run. But in the last week it appears the courts are willing to put on the brakes, the Democrats in Congress are willing to stand up (just a little!) and people are ready to confront the government. Life is not optimal. But it’s better than it would be if everyone was rolling over and just talking it.

So, yeah! I’m still feeling not entirely horrible! Let’s see how long that lasts.

105 thoughts on “Three Weeks Into Trump’s America

  1. Impeach Cobbler pie goes well with a nice Muscadine wine, and a Black and Mild. Y’all should try it!

  2. Once again excellent points Mr. Scalzi. My goal is to make my district politician as scared as possible. I live in a very gerrymandered district (heavily Republican one that snakes for miles like a Picasso figure around all of the democratic areas). but that won’t stop me from supporting any moderate challenger who moves the needle even slightly to the center. that is how I can hopefully stop this crazy.

    My thoughts on the wall:
    – I imagine based on Trump’s “i am never wrong” fervor over the last three weeks he will go forward with it, damn the cost or consequences. Every single individual who voted from him could personally tell him “no” and he would still say he needs to do it and lie about his support.

    – He will overpay for the wall. It will be poorly built. He will force America to use one of his companies to oversee the project so he personally profit immensely from it.

    – He will use a tariff to “pay for the wall”, thus charging Americans 2x to pay for it (first with tax dollars and second with the Tarrif). He will not understand that and boast that Mexican companies are paying for the wall instead of passing on the costs to the consumer like every single company in the world would do.

    – He will never actually build the entire thing as planned, instead he will extend the current fence, pretend he built the entire thing and still run over budget.

    .

  3. I took a tiny bit of hope out of the immediate walkback from the 20% tax on Mexican goods. The pushback on that tax came from his supporters as well as from the people who he expects to oppose him, and he listened. It’s the only sign I’ve seen that this administration will listen to at least a few chosen “outside” voices.

  4. My fake interlocutor could ask me exactly the same questions yours did and get pretty much identical answers.

    For the record, I don’t think there’s any real point in the Democrats trying to prevent any of Trump’s picks. All of them will be confirmed, no matter what Democrats do. The DeVos vote was the best case scenario, and unlikely to happen again. I think what little political capital Democrats have should be spent trying to prevent the repeal/gutting of the Affordable Care Act. It’s massively important to many, many Americans. It needs tweaking/fixing, and perhaps enough Republicans can be persuaded to help Democrats do that, but a repeal will be a total fucking disaster, regardless of what horrid shit Republicans try to replace it with.

  5. Thanks for expressing most of my thoughts so eloquently.

    I believe I sensed more than a modicum of self restraint.

    The only good thing that may come out of this is an enlivened engagement from the voting public. Then again, given the gnat’s attention span that appears to be the norm these days, a healthy involvement in government by the governed may be a flash mob event.

  6. As a Canuck I’d like to extend both my deepest sympathies to all.
    And an invitation to come visit for the next 4 years or so :P

  7. Regarding the dementia claims, I would also add that I remember all the crazy speculation around Hillary and her health during the campaign. I thought those conspiracy theories were whack-job level crazy. In an attempt to not be a complete hypocrite I can’t support or push something without any evidence. Until a licensed mental health care professional personally examines him and makes that diagnosis it remains a conspiracy theory.

  8. Assume all you wish. Just remember: “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” ― Isaac Asimov

  9. Historians overall* seem to rank Andrew Johnson worse than Buchanan, with Harding and Pierce coming in better than those two and then George W. Bush. Harding appears to be the benchmark for scandalous and horrible without precipitating an actual civil war.

    * going off an aggregate table of scholar surveys on Wikipedia which is up to date as of a 538 poll from November 2016

  10. Well, you’re taking this better than I am, but then I’m a disabled 68-year-old woman living heavily on Social Security and depending on Medicare. Although I gotta say, if this causes the Democrats to get their poop together it’s *almost* worth it. Assuming we survive it.

  11. Next time we get an intelligent and honest person into the White House, any bets on whether we’ll get some Trump-inspired tightening of ethics laws? Heck, I’d settle for just getting rid of the exemption in the current laws.

  12. My current level of engagement in politics is throwing an occasional glance at the rearview mirror. Even the image of Trump makes my scrotum crawl (sorry) and I can’t look at him anymore, let alone listen to him.

    On the bright side, there are some excellent new TV shows to use as distractions. FX is kicking butt with Taboo, and Chapter 1 of Legion was sensational! Season 3 of Fargo comes out in the spring, so that’s something to look forward to as well.

    In the meantime, remember to take your protein pills and put your helmet on.

  13. Three Weeks huh? People talk about “the first hundred days” of an administration. 100 days is a little under *5 times* the age of the current administration. Wow. This exhaustion I’m feeling is going to have to be managed in the long run.

    It is heartening to see the public response in protests and town halls. A bunch of states are going to work to criminalize such protests, but our judicial branch appears to be holding fast so far and those laws won’t get traction. In fact, it looks like a “2 against 1″ in the branches of government contest, which shouldn’t be a contest.

    Tom Cotton, Harvard educated lawyer and somebody who likely understands the constitution better than most of us, recently said in an official press release, “President Trump’s order to temporarily pause the refugee program and travel from seven war-torn countries is plainly legal under the Constitution and our immigration laws.” I rather suspect Cotton knows this to be a false statement. That he, and others like him utter it, is telling. He then goes on to say, “No foreigner has a constitutional right to enter the United States and courts ought not second-guess sensitive national-security decisions of the president.” I take this statement to be an outright attack on separation of powers and indeed, the unlucky DOJ lawyers sent to the ninth circuit tried to argue this very angle. That the President’s orders lie beyond the judicial powers of review. WUT?

    It’s a war on the constitution folks. No other way to put it. Our founders were thinking of this very type of situation when they put the separation of powers in place. It’s getting stress tested now. It’s a good Constitution. Hope it makes it.

  14. My personal rhetorical question is when does gross incompetence become an impeachable offense? I suspect we’ll have a chance to find out.

  15. I had to check the calendar when I looked at the title of this entry. I truly did not believe that it has ONLY been three weeks.

    Thanks, as always. Just thanks.

  16. I’m also reminded of a remark by Michael Swanwick made at a science fiction convention in the DC area the better part of a decade ago, where he commented on SF where the future was just like the present, only a little greyer and saggier, his expectation was that you’ll never see the real shock coming when it hits you.

  17. As I posted on FB, I can’t decide if the most accurate assumption here is

    Assume any utterance from Trump is a lie and/or grossly misinformed;

    or

    Assume the rationale for any administration initiative is “because fuck you, that’s why”;

  18. @Shrike58: Not until January 2019 at the earliest, is my guess, and that only if public revulsion with Trump becomes so great that there’s a blue tsunami in Congress. It would be political suicide for a GOP Congressperson in a Trump-leaning district to vote for impeachment or a GOP Senator in a Trump-leaning state to vote for removal. I don’t think very many GOP people in Congress have that kind of backbone.

  19. “I’m embarrassed that my president and his administration are corrupt, ignorant bigots, and I’m embarrassed that when given a choice between corrupt, ignorant bigots and not corrupt ignorant bigots, enough of us decided the corrupt, ignorant bigots would somehow be a refreshing change to make the electoral college go in that direction.”

    I hope this phrasing is not meant to imply that Hillary Clinton is an ignorant bigot who just happens to not be corrupt.

    IOW, I trust you mean “not (corrupt ignorant bigots)” instead of “(not corrupt) (ignorant bigots)”.

  20. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve tried to be accepting and inclusive. I’m tired. I have a son and a daughter on the way. I don’t want to raise them in a sexist, racists, homophobic society that Trump and his supporters want. I’m not so sure the Union will survive. At least, it won’t in it’s present form. I see two options for myself. Leave, or fight for breakup. I can’t reason with these people any more. I’ve gone from pitying them to hating them. They seem to want a war. I’m starting to think it’s time to give them one.

    #FreeCascadia.

  21. If it helps at all, the British Government is now desperately trying to plan the proposed State Visit for Trump which keeps him as far from the public eye as possible, because they know there will be massive protests against him.

    The chances of the Queen pulling a sickie are probably low, since Her Highness has hosted some omega level tyrants in her time, but she has the finest collection of jewels in the world, and thus is unlikely to be impressed with Ivanka’s bangles. I suspect that fact will piss off Trump bigly…

  22. I had a couple follow-up questions/thoughts:
    1) Any take on the likelihood of significant parts of government being dismantled due to Bannon’s allegiance to “Neoreaction”? (Culling from https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/the-radical-anti-conservatism-of-stephen-bannon/496796/, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/behind-the-internets-dark-anti-democracy-movement/516243/, and many similar articles from various sources)
    2) Aside from generally misogynist attacks on Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway (She looks like a horse! etc.) what’s your take on their level of corruption/involvement with this whole process? I believe many people are disappointed that Ivanka seems to be posing less of a “female role model” than they had hoped (head in the sand, much?) and Conway of course poses her own brand of basketball-level facile political machinations. But I don’t get the sense that either of them has much political power.

  23. Re Gorsuch: From what I’ve read/ heard he sounds like a “good egg”. Sure he’s conservative, but Trump could have nominated someone much worse. I hope he gets confirmed without too much of a fight. (Assuming there are no skeletons in his closet.) I think the Dem’s should save their fire for bigger fights.. of which there look to be many.

  24. Three weeks today; three weeks in, and it feels like Nixon in his sixth year. Jesus Christ.

    Shrike58 — good question; and Trump himself asked that question, a couple years ago (about whether a president could be impeached for gross incompetence). In so many ways, this regime has broken my irony meter.

  25. Re Impeachment: I expect GOP will never do it unless they can specifically benefit as saviors of the country. To me the only thing that would cause that is if there is irrefutable evidence that Trump is a spy for Putin and they catch him handing over deeply classified state secrets for personal gain. Then they can be “heroes” and take on the badguy. Other than that they will suffer through it like the rest of us.

    But I do expect around the time of the 2018 State of the Union to see a majority turn for the GOP away from unilateral support of his policies. Only because it is an election year and by then even the republican base will start to feel the pain.

  26. As a Canadian, I’m looking forward (in the same way one looks forward to root canal surgery) to Trump’s meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday. He does not have an easy row to hoe here: America is our biggest trading partner, so he doesn’t want to get Trump’s back up (although since Trump seems to get upset at just about anything, good luck with that, Justin); on the other hand; he doesn’t want to be a doormat, as the optics of that back home would not be good.

    Personally, I’d be happy if Trudeau went all Hugh Laurie (as British PM) to Billy Bob Thornton (as POTUS) in ‘Love, Actually’, but I fear that the joy of seeing that in the moment would lead to things being much, much worse afterwards.

  27. The only, and I mean ONLY reason I’m not feeling horrible most of the time is out of self preservation. I have to live, and to do so I can’t fall prey to depression, Some days I do, but I fight that as well as the issues at hand. Queer people, nonwhites, women, Muslims, Jewish people, are all in varying degrees of danger. The poor are going to be exceptionally fucked.

    John, gently and with friendship, you have hardly anything that’s threatened by Trump that of course you feel strangely optimistic. You’ve slipped into playing this game on “easy” mode. If you were one of the above groups I listed, the chances are greater that you’d be more worried than you are.

  28. Josh Jasper:

    “John, gently and with friendship, you have hardly anything that’s threatened by Trump that of course you feel strangely optimistic. You’ve slipped into playing this game on “easy” mode. If you were one of the above groups I listed, the chances are greater that you’d be more worried than you are.”

    Indeed, which is a thing I point to specifically in the text. It’s easy for me. It’s not easy for other folks. I will be spending the next four years spending at least some of my time and money attempting to be of service to them.

  29. The thing I’m finding the most exciting is watching people getting engaged with their state and local pols. Chaffetz getting run out of his town hall in UTAH of all places is freaking hilarious. I’m limited by both health and life-responsibility reasons from doing much in the way of in-person activism (most of what I’ve done these days is donate, make progressive T-shirt designs, and work on my diversity-heavy books), but it really helps to see so many other folks doing that legwork.

    The other thing related to this is how, for lack of a better concept, trendy politics has become recently. Two years ago, would anyone have believed that 110,000 people would be listening to a livestream of a conference call for a largely procedural appeals-court hearing? Actual political reality has become the new reality TV, and that should scare the crap out of the Tang Tyrant. Elizabeth Warren is way more of a rock star than he is, and even minor figures like the WA state AG now have active fans. For someone who obviously got into this because he wanted the ego trip of playing King of the World, that’s gotta sting.

    I think it’s pretty obvious where popular opinion is these days, and it’s definitely not on his side. Industry isn’t afraid of him, because they have way more money than he does, and they’re not losing customers with any of these preposterous boycotts. It may matter to the electoral college that most of the population is concentrated on the coasts, but state borders don’t define commerce anymore. Nordie’s doesn’t care whether some racist shit-for-brains in the middle of Kentucky won’t shop there.–they have plenty of customers elsewhere.

    As for the courts: I admit I want more of a delay on confirming Gorsuch, to allow for a few more good split decisions before we start running up against the red wall (Alito, Thomas, etc.) The good part, though, is that even though those two are wretched, I can’t quite see Roberts being all that pleased about a POTUS dissing the judiciary. That’s a good way to get spanked by the people you’re trying to roll over.

    I also wonder if the rest of the GOP is kind of secretly hoping for the courts to take this out of their hands: Bust him on some actual criminal charge or something, so they can avoid getting their hands dirty. That bit from Sherrod Brown on how he knows some GOP senators who were too scared to vote their convictions on cabinet confirmations? Ugh. Spineless asshats, only worried about re-election.

  30. I actually tweeted at the POTUS account my “thanks” for how the series of executive orders were, conversely, making us more civic-minded and active in our politics. I mean, the ton of money pouring into the ACLU, Sierra Club, and other groups standing up for whatever President Trump threatens is a good sign. Not to mention the near-biweekly swarms of people cropping up because of him, from the Women’s Marches to the nationwide airport protests. It looks bad now, and it will continue to be bad for many months/years, but I’m praying we might come out a little wiser by 2020.

  31. I went to high school at one of the other DC private schools, and knew a bunch of kids from Georgetown Prep through mutual theatre activities. And all I can say about this alleged Fascism Forever club is it sounds like exactly the kind of stupid teenager trick they would get up to back in the day. A friend and I replaced all the flags on our school with Lorax flags. The class ahead of me, which also had some people who are politically famous now, took the teachers “hostage” at water-pistol-point and released all the students as their senior prank. (A teacher dunked a student in one of those big trash cans that someone had half-filled with water, it was awesome.) But if I said [name] took the teachers hostage and locked them in the student lounge yeah, that would sound pretty awful if [name] were to run for political office.

  32. I’m not worried about Trudeau meeting Trump. As Paul Wells in the Toronto Star today points out, Trump is much better with face to face meetings than when he’s on the phone to people (big “hi” to Australia here!) or simply tweeting about them. If Trudeau holds his hand on stairs, they’re solid buds.

    Got a huge kick out of the Ivanka-Nordstrom thing. People, especially elected Democrats, should be pointing out that Ivanka’s stuff is made in China and Hong Kong. Not exactly on-message with MAGA, is it? Notice that Ivanka is solidifying her position as the smart Trump by keeping her mouth shut about all this?

    Good to see people turning out at town hall meetings and reminding Republican reps which end of the leash they belong on. Only a matter of time before they cancel them all, of course, but it’s important to make sure they know they’re in a fight. Also would be helpful if people turned up at Democratic town halls to get them moving as well.

  33. I can’t yet say that I’m optimistic but I’m certainly *more* optimistic than I was a week and a half ago (good gracious, these three weeks have lasted an eternity) mostly because I’ve started to see some minor wins for the resistance. The Appeals Court ruling was a big one, along with the 2 Republican Senators who defected on the DeVos vote. But there have been more under-the-radar victories as well, versus both Trump and Congress. There was enough outcry over the bill to allow sale of public lands that Chaffetz himself scuttled it. And even though they are largely trying to blame the blocked phone lines on “out of state robo calls,” Senators are having a hard time completely ignoring the outcry from their constituents.
    The thing that’s contributing the most to my tiny gains in optimism is the new phenomena of “trendy” politics that someone mentioned above. I’m smack in the middle of the millennial demographic, in the middle of a blue bubble in a red state, and I have NEVER seen anything close to this level of engagement from my peers. I highly suspect that if we can keep up the engagement (and yes, the outrage) for 12 more months we are going to see an unprecedented surge in campaign involvement from young people going into 2018. Its a long way away but I’m starting to be hopeful.

  34. @Shawna – Utah hates Trump, so the turn out is not surprising. What is surprising is Chaffetz saying the KellyAnne Conway thing was bad – he wouldn’t recognize a GOP ethics violation if he tripped over one.

    @Dan – Trumps supporters are the ones who will first feel the pain. Unfortunately, as Bruce sang 33 (!!) years ago “Foreman Says ‘These Jobs Are Going Boys and They Ain’t Comin’ Back to Your Hometown!’

    Given Trumps’ complete attachment to TV, the scope is there for the most awesomest Orson Welles moment of all time – get CNN to fake up an alien landing report and wait 10 minutes for the orange idiot to retweet it.

    The GOP won’t impeach the idiot until he a) costs their owners money (see- 20% Mexico tariff for how quick those policies change) or b) he stops rubber-stamping the laws they pass that allow them to loot the country, Until that point, he’s teflon.

    His ratings are pretty much in line with the pre-election ones, he’s still got a 90% favorable rating with Republicans, and that will be enough to get him re-elected, as the Dems will do their usual trick of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory (Trump was the only Republican Hilary could have beaten, and the Dems (combined with the FBI and Russia) botched that)

  35. “I still hold that spot for James Buchanan, who broke the country in a way that required fighting a war to fix, ”
    Yeah, but lots of liberals are arming themselves. The ones I know are much quieter about it than the right-wing gun nuts are, and tend not to fetishize their weapons. They’re more worried about brownshirts than government agents.

    Interesting that the Trumpenfuhrer changed his mind on Taiwan. I guess someone pointed out how much of his own money was on the line if he didn’t. Since picking a fight with Iran would upset the Russians, and many other countries where he has investments, I wouldn’t be surprised to se a walk-back there, too. That thought’s gotta be making Bibi nervous.

  36. Just to clarify things: Snopes says the Gorsuch “Fascism Forever” club thing is false!

    http://www.snopes.com/neil-gorsuchs-fascism-forever-club/

    It may have been (as John suggested), a jokey flier he made, but there’s no evidence an actual club ever existed. Certainly no official school club as the original report claimed..

    Please note that the story came from The Daily Mail!! A British tabloid which combines the worst aspects of the National Enquirer and Fox News. (Given the Mail’s usual readers, it was probably an attempt at painting Gorsuch as likable and relatable.) There’s a reason it’s known as “The Daily Fail” in the UK, and that it was recently banned from being used as a “reliable source” on Wikipedia. (The latter has nothing to do with its politics, despite what some are trying to claim.)

  37. Murkowski and Collins deserve precisely no credit for defecting on the DeVos vote. They knew it would only throw it to Pence to cast the tie breaker. They both voted for her in committee, when their votes could actually have stopped someone they had “doubts” about. Or they could have sided with the Democrats just to delay the vote until she got around to answering the committee’s questions. They knuckled under when it mattered and shouldn’t get any credit for standing up when it didn’t.

  38. Spicer won’t write his memoirs–Trump is famous for requiring his people to sign incredibly punitive NDAs, which is part of why his organization is full of so many anonymous leaks. Nobody can publicly say anything, but they really need to vent their frustration at working for such a useless wankstain of a human being.

    (I assume that only gets Malleted if Trump himself is reading and commenting? Not sure on the rules.)

    I, too, am heartened by the Judiciary’s quick slaps at Trump’s agenda, and I think we’ll only see more of those as time goes by. My father once said that the great and enduring battle in America’s government isn’t between Left and Right, it’s between Legislative, Executive and Judicial, and I suspect we’ll see an adversarial relationship develop pretty quickly between Trump and the Ryan/McConnell axis. They want him to shut up and sign their bills, he wants them to shut up and write the laws he wants written. That’s not going to go well even though they’re both nominally in the same party.

    (Which is why I think the Dems should block Gorusch, and indeed anyone Trump nominates who isn’t Merrick Garland. Make McConnell choose between supporting his president and keeping his filibuster and watch the fireworks when Trump finds out that the Senate Majority Leader isn’t about to stick that big ol’ turtle neck out for him.)

  39. Not the Reddit Chris S. said, “Utah hates Trump, so the turn out is not surprising.”

    Chaffetz represents the third CD in Utah. Interesting point: In 2016, Chaffetz carried this heavy Republican district with 73.5 percent of the vote compared to 47 percent for Trump. (Romney carried it with 78 percent of the vote in 2012.)

    Looks like every left-leaning person in the 3rd CD showed up for Chaffetz’s town hall, while the District’s right leaners mostly stayed away because they dislike Trump (because he is too left-leaning and culturally odd from their POV).

  40. In 1968, when I was a student at Simon Fraser University (then Canada’s “hotbed of student radicalism”), a group of us organized “The Party,” to do satirical street theater. We put up posters with ambiguous slogans, put out scurrilous leaflets calling for drastic measures (unspecified), wore armbands (we used the radiation symbol as our swastika), and ran for student council so Our Glorious Leader could deliver strange, Mussolini-type rants about creating a new social order (again, unspecified). At one of these rallies, some plants in the crowd ran forward and “shot” OGL with a starter pistol. We who were his stormtroopers drew our own starter pistols and initiated a running gunfight down into the parking garage. Good fun for all, we thought.

    But then a couple of us were handing out the latest full-tilt-crazy leaflet in the cafeteria where the science students hung out, and we found ourselves being approached by some short-hairs who were deadly serious about joining the movement. So the whole thing quickly died.

    Them was strange times. A lot like these times.

  41. @shrike58 @AndrewHackard: Flipping the House in 2018 seems totally possible, if hardly guaranteed: there are 23 districts held by Republicans that also voted for Clinton at the presidential level, and Democrats only need to flip 24. On the other hand, taking the Senate will be hard—many more red-state Democrats happen to be up for re-election than blue-state Republicans. But if even one of those happens, January 2019 is a different world.

  42. Can’t march or protest, but I can make calls. The calls are getting through, not so many busy signals as some reports claim. Find local office numbers and call there. Be calm and civil, state your position, don’t be insulting. (yes the situation is panic inducing and scorn may well be deserved, but still, be calm and civil to the staffers)

    John Scalzi said:
    “I will be spending the next four years spending at least some of my time and money attempting to be of service to them.”
    Thank you! If you’re ever on the phone with DJT he’s going to hang up on you.

  43. I think the entire concept of “political capital” has lost any meaning. Or at least the idea that Democrats could use it all up fighting against Republicans in Congress. The Republicans obviously didn’t “use up” theirs obstructing everything Obama tried to do the last 8 years. In fact, I would go so far as to say they increased their capital where it mattered, with Republicans.

    I think the more the Democrats push back against things they are really against (as opposed to obstruction for its own sake) the more capital they will gain with Democrats and others who want to see Trump’s craziness stopped. When there isn’t any compromise, especially when it is seen as a weakness, there isn’t any capital to be gained (or hoarded) by doing it.

  44. Gorsuch is most definitely not a good egg in my book. Look at his support for the Hobby Lobby decision. He thinks it didn’t go far enough. And he’s an enemy to voter rights. That’s not just a regular conservative fellow. I’m not sure there ARE any of those any longer.

    I don’t think my life as a relatively well-off white person is ANY better in ANY respect under Trump. Not a smidge. Even ignoring the risk of war and other disasters, and ignoring the fact that other people’s well-being isn’t irrelevant to my own (what, it’s supposed to be fun living in a country where most people are getting screwed? how would that even work?), looking solely at my bottom line, the only thing I can put in the credit box is that I might be paying a little bit less in taxes, maaaaybe? But my future health insurance is up in the air, my ability to travel freely is up in the air, my kids may lose their reproductive freedom under the law, no one knows what the hell is going to happen with the markets — yeah, my personal selfish ox is still getting gored.

    I’m safer than a lot of other people, for now. But I’m less safe than I was before.

  45. @John Seavey

    I’m not so sure about that whole non-disclosure thing. Maybe. But I think Spicer is a federal employee, not someone employed by Trump directly and I would expect the laws are different in that regard. Not that these yahoos care much for laws.

  46. On The Wall: Smithsonian Magazine had an article about how building a wall on the southern border is pretty much physically impossible (if you want a single continuous wall). You can’t build on sand dunes, for a starter. Or all the places where the bedrock (where you would normally anchor a 50 foot tall concrete wall) is under thousands of feet of shifting dirt and clay. Heck, according to a lot of geologists you couldn’t even *survey* to start building this wall in less than 20 years, let alone 180 days.

    So there will be a big wall somewhere visible (and inconvenient) but it will turn back into a fence (and then nothing) as soon as you’re 2 miles from the freeway.

  47. I don’t even bother to try to contact the idiots my state (South Dakota) has sent to Washington because they are just Republican drones without an original thought between the 3 of them. Look up, if you’re really bored, John Thune, who at least just looks like a normal corrupt Senator, Mike Rounds, whose idiot grin reminds me of Patrick Star (and sometimes you CAN judge a book by its cover), and Kristi Noem, who famously got reprimanded a few years ago for texting during some Congressional committee meeting. The only thing worth doing with anything with them is to try to vote them out of office. But brainy people are in the minority here in this red state.
    I DO worry that Trump and Sessions will try to somehow use some emergency situation someday to declare some vast-sweeping martial law, close down newspapers and other media (except for the state-run FOX News), etc. I think it’s a little more likely that the “Trump Administration” will just somehow implode someday in the next 2 years. Best case scenario: Pence dies of a heart attack, (sorry I can’t remember how a new VP got chosen when Spiro Agnew got booted out, and I don’t want to go away from this all-important comment to look it up), a less-cretinous, moderate Republican gets chosen VP, then Trump has a meltdown and tries to push The Button, he gets forcibly removed by cooler heads, the Republican yutzes cause a mini-meltdown of the economy that we miraculously survive, then the Democrats win both houses in the next couple legislative elections. Either that, or Kate Beckinsale leaves her husband and moves in with me, bringing her leather costume from Underworld as her only wardrobe, in which case I’ll forget about politics for a while. Hit delete, if you wish; it’s your blog, after all.

  48. Sessions
    Price
    Spicer
    Pence
    Reince Priebus

    Whoever wrote this novel should be shot. Enough sibilants in the names to make a convention of snakes wince.

    Will somebody please publish a dramatis personae? I’m having a hell of a time telling these jokers apart.

  49. I’m glad somebody else Snopesed the Gorsuch “fascism forever” story. He is a far-right freak for sure, but that story was fiction.

    Gorsuch is not the justice we need – we don’t need another Scalia; “originalist” legal theory is a load of pious BS that is too openly akin to fundamentalist Christianity (and coincidentally, usually espoused by the same people) for my taste – but he’s far from the worst we could get (that would be Thomas).

    Have to admit I am misanthropically leaning the same way as beowuff: maybe it’s time for this nation to change its shape. I am sure tired of my tax dollars supporting the Confederacy of F***ing Dunces. If California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington GTFO we should call the new country Pacifica. :-) Though Cascadia is nice too.

  50. Justatech – that will be in San Diego, we already have a double wall between here and Tijuana, this will get extended a bit and TRUMP painted on it, then we’ll be done. The terrain gets real tricky real quick – less than 25 miles out of town you’re into some pretty rugged hills.

    @Porto – those were the sort of numbers I was thinking about. You’re right with the few left-ish people showing up, but it makes an impression anyway.

  51. I’m looking forward (in that guilty way one looks forward to seeing the carnage as one passes by a massive accident on the highway) to seeing how high Donald’s blood pressure gets as he’s watching Alec Baldwin host Saturday Night Live tomorrow. I don’t know if it’ll reach “blow a gasket” levels, but it’ll probably get close — maybe just “Donald Duck” levels.

    That and seeing how John Oliver reacts to what’s happened since his show went on hiatus for the holidays when it returns on Sunday.

  52. I don’t think we should take those yearbook jokes Gorsuch made (there was also the Kissinger quotation in his college yearbook) as tremendously significant in themselves, but I can understand why some people had a certain “brrrr” feeling looking at them under current circumstances.

  53. @scjessey: The point isn’t to find some way to actually stop the appointments, it’s to emphasize that they are owned 100% by the Republicans and people should remember this at election time.

    @Shawna: The President is completely immune from normal criminal prosecution, at least according to the usual interpretation of the Constitution. If he commits crimes, there’s only one remedy, and it’s up to Congress: they have to impeach and convict him. There’s no way they can wriggle out of it if they want to get rid of Trump.

  54. Lots of this is Stuff That Does Not Matter.
    In normal times, yes it would. It would be an intolerable erosion of all norms, an unacceptable attack on checks, balances, and the rule of law.

    But we went beyond that some time ago. So far, the regime has only tested the eaters, seeing how far they can go ignoring the courts. They pulled back when confronted.

    Now the ducks are mostly in a row, cabinet positions filled, but the purge of the bureaucracy is still incomplete. When it is, when US Marshals are directed to ignore judicial directions, things may get very different very quickly. Laws already exist that allow civil forfeiture of assets without criminal conviction or charge. The President already has the power to determine that anyone is a supporter of Terrorism, and order the military to confine them indefinitely. Unconstitutional? Yes, but the law, so enough will obey regardless of what some so-called judge says.

    A federal law removing the obligation of employers to give time off work to vote may be next. Or putting all voting machines in police stations (in selected areas) For National Security.

    The DNC dirty laundry info obtained by third parties has been released. The RNC info has not, and is being held like the proverbial Sword of Damocles over the heads of GOP legislators. Only a few are immune, not enough to matter. Expect nothing but unqualified support for anything the Leader does, especially if it increases their chance of re-election from zero to certainty by suppressing dissident votes.

    The biggest issue is that the swamp really did need draining, and the current DNC is part of that problem. HRC would not have put Exxon in charge of the EPA, nor Goldman Sachs in charge of bank regulation, but the cosy relationships between Political parties and the Malefactors of Great Wealth are obvious to all on both sides of politics. Change is needed – just not radical change for the worse, as with the Leader.

    So I’m not optimistic. Electoral shennanigans will hurt the Democrat vote in the mideterms catastrophically. By 2020, the US will be a one party state. Assuming the Leader doesn’t press the button first.

    I have to keep on revising my worst-case scenarios to keep up with current events.

  55. Gorsuch has never shown any respect for Women’s rights and is generally reviewed as somewhere to the right of every Supreme Court Justice except Thomas. Yes, this puts him well to the right of Scalia.

    If Gorsuch is the low bar the administration has to clear, that’s sad…

    Democrats can do nothing to stop Gorsuch from being on the court. This does not mean that they should vote for him,especially after the Republican treatment of Garland. The Democrats in mass should vote against Gorsuch for such a reason. Any Democrat that votes for Gorsuch should face a primary challenge to remove them at the next elected opportunity.

    The Democrats need to have a spine. There is no hill left for them to die on. If they aren’t principled opposition with integrity to liberal beliefs, then they are less than what they are now, a party with absolutely no power.

  56. Your thoughts mirror my own, though actual hopefulness is in short supply around our house. But we’ve got that determination and resistance thing going, and that’s good.

    I’m writing and faxing and calling and emailing and supporting my friends who do likewise. I’m paying attention to the degree I can without driving myself to hit things with a hammer.

  57. I’m honestly horrified. I’m watching my fatherland degenerate into a corrupt corporate puppet ruled by fascists and Klansmen.

    But hey! At least the people are mobilizing! Four fucking months too late.

    I give it a 50/50 chance that Orange Idiot causes a civil war within or immediately after his presidency.

  58. Wow, nice to find someone thinking such similar thoughts to my own.

    I think the next 2, maybe 4 years are going to be an excruciating civics lesson for America, and especially for the guy in the Oval Office. Here’s hoping the courts can hold the line on the worst of it.

  59. Anybody have a garden? If you can garden, you might want to start one.
    I know, they backed down on the tariff on Mexican goods thing, but, they have started rounding people up to deport. If there are no people to harvest, crops will rot in the field, and drop from the trees. Frankly, it’s hard to get Americans to do those jobs at the pay offered and under current conditions. The jobs suck.
    I can think of a labor force that some red states might use to fill the breach, though. Prison labor was offered to help build the wall, if you recall? Someone might make a bit of money renting out prison labor to pick the crops. It might only work for large farms and certain crops, but, it isn’t like the administration cares about small businesses anyhow.
    They are ramping up the war on drugs and attempting to criminalize protest, so I am sure that could find enough incarcerated bodies. Most of the police forces might be willing to go along for a sufficient cut of asset forfeiture money.
    You can fight a lot of it in the courts, of course, but, if enough people get what they want from that situation then it will be a real fight.
    Regardless of how far along this path it goes, though, if they deport enough farm workers, fresh food will become pricier. So, start a garden, or make friends with people who do garden.

  60. Why the fuss about Garland? The Republicans just applied the Biden Rule. If it was good enough for President Bush 41, it should be good enough for President Obama.

  61. I’m not real thrilled about Gorsuch’s position on the Hobby Lobby decision because I think it says that private companies ought not have to do stuff because it’s against their owner’s religion based on outdated scientific theories, but at the same time, I thought his dissent on the 7th grader with the fake farting noises, was much better than the majority who sided with the teacher, school district and police who arrested the kid for being disruptive in class. I think it would be a mistake for the Democrats to filibuster Gorsuch so that McConnell will have an excuse to kill the fillibuster for the Supreme Court nominees.

  62. Xtifa

    The Mail is usually referred to the ‘Wail’, apart from all the people insisting that it is the One True Way. Wikipedia has removed it from their citation rules because it’s completely unreliable.

    However, much as the Wail is loathed, they didn’t see the £150,000,000 libel suit for lost opportunities to make a lot of money as First Lady coming their way. They should have…

  63. I am still of a mind that says the weight of the presidency will get to Der Trump. This is, of course, a moot point. With the reincarnation of Rasputin whispering in one ear, a crazy bitch yelling into the other and a series of sycophantic chorus singing things “Money, Money, Money” in between the sound bites and post it notes of the rest of the crew we will never be given a chance to know what the Donald might really be thinking, if he thinks at all.

  64. @Jenna

    I have a garden. In fact I have three tomato plants going in my south window already. With my dirty fingernails credentials established I will say that for the average American growing a garden because of fear of food shortages is crazy.

    For me gardening is a bit of fun and because I have a base of skills and tools it does not cost much. My veg still probably cost me something like $7/pound considering the work I put in. Most people trying to start a new garden will spend more and get less than I do. For them it makes no financial sense to grow food even if prices were to triple or quadruple.

    I think trying to get people’s hands into the dirt out of fear rather than for love does a disservice to the hobby and to those people.

  65. I really, really hope the Democrats do everything they can to block Gorsuch’s confirmation (not that they can stop him, but still). I’m still salty about what the Republicans did to Merrick Garland, and I think it’s high time we started fighting fire with fire. The media (especially CNN) has sort of grown a spine lately, so if they can just do that a little bit more, with a little bit more intensity, it’s *possible* that they might get a few Trump supporters to start questioning why they ever supported that idiot.

    For me, the most frustrating thing about Trump’s rise is that I would like to start having a civil conversation with conservatives again. I occasionally run into a Trump supporter, but have to stick to fairly neutral topics with them because whenever the talk turns to politics, I just can’t roll my eyes hard enough. There are plenty of bad liberals out there. There must be some good conservatives. But the only Republican politicians these days that I have a lick of respect for are Lindsay Graham, John McCain, and…Scott Rigell, I guess. There have to be more right-wingers out there with a moral compass. There just have to be.

  66. There is no “Biden Rule”. There is only a cherry-picked suggestion in a speech that Joe Biden made decades ago, and he rejected his own suggestion later in his speech.

    People who offer the “Biden Rule” are not honest people. You should distrust anything they say.

  67. @John Seavey:

    Spicer won’t write his memoirs–Trump is famous for requiring his people to sign incredibly punitive NDAs, which is part of why his organization is full of so many anonymous leaks. Nobody can publicly say anything, but they really need to vent their frustration at working for such a useless wankstain of a human being.

    Sean Spicer isn’t an employee of the Trump Organisation or a personal vassal of Donald Trump. Guess that’s another one of those things Team Trump will need to be taught by “so-called” judges eventually.

    @eurystomus:

    Aside from generally misogynist attacks on Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway (She looks like a horse! etc.) what’s your take on their level of corruption/involvement with this whole process?

    Well, let’s dispose of Kellyanne Conway first. I’ve heard some incredibly nonsense that she has no idea what’s really going on because her only function is to go on television and randomly puke up maggoty word salad. Don’t believe a word of it. Nobody in D.C. ends up where she is by taking on jobs without being in on every meeting and knowing exactly what you’re saying — even if nobody else does.

    If you want to err a long way on the side of generosity, I guess you can say Conway, Ivanka Trump (and her stepmother, for that matter) are waaaay out of their depth, and not just when it comes to ethics laws. But these are things interns seem to have no problem picking up during the first day of orientation.

  68. Enough (moral, economic, intellectual, polticaland what not) idiots voted for this poopstick* to be elected president.
    The same type of idiots gave us Brexit. In my own country Geert Wilders is profiting from this combination of fear & ignorance.
    I am anything but optimistic. Civilisations come and go but it’s definitely something else to have a ringside seat to the spectacle – and has any civilisation ever been as moronically and enthusiastically destroyed by its own citizens?

    *My apologies to Chris Moore for using his word. President Poopstick and his Cabinet of Fuckstockings… Our host here is not the only one with a good line of invectives.

  69. I mean, these motherfuckers literally cannot find light switches in the White House conference rooms.

    And if that’s not a perfect metaphor for this administration, I don’t know what is.

  70. Until a licensed mental health care professional personally examines him and makes that diagnosis it remains a conspiracy theory.

    Which sensible professional would do that? And have an “unfortunate accident” on the way home? And have crazies besiege their house?

    If they did give a shit about what anyone thinks, and bow to some form of pressure to get someone in, be sure it would be a paid-for stooge who would produce a clean bill of health, at least for public consumption.

  71. Well. I see we’re gonna get four years of Trump updates. At least you’re a little more saner about it than Wheaton is. But, seriously, some originality would be nice as opposed to saying the same old same old to the lazy choir.

    But hey, I’m sure that it’s comforting to know that annoying potential buyers of your books by insulting their intelligence is a good thing. After all, people who live in the real world have more to worry about than those who live in a large (mostly closed like Hollywood) entertainment related bubble.

  72. Three weeks in and:

    1) My (admittedly minor) phone anxiety is starting to make exceptions for calling my elected officials. That’s kind of nice.
    2) I have been to more political protests in the past three weeks than in my entire life before Jan 20th. I am kind of enjoying them.
    3) I have revived an old hobby, and can finish a pussyhat in two days. So far I have not run out of people who want one.
    4) I am heartened by the people who will turn out on a few hours notice and besiege the airport on behalf of people they don’t know and will likely never meet.

    It sucks that Trump won; it doubly sucks that the Republicans gerrymandered themselves into a position of such power and we have a lot of digging out to do, and innocent people are going to get hurt because of it.

    But it looks a bit more like the digging out will happen.

    Pass the shovel.

  73. I’m active on a lot of forums, and they are pretty much full of Americans.. Most are with me, that trump and Brexit are disastrously poor decisions.. On the other hand, I have been told (by DT supporters) that I’m not entitled to any kind of opinion on anything political.. Hmm.. Next up, democracy gets forgotten and censorship revives.. Keep on shouting, folks..

  74. Has it really only been three weeks? Good God, it feels like three years already! I think the danger is allowing the incompetent, corrupt, racist, and never-flagging negative energy of the Trump Administration to become normalized and accepted (much in the way we adjust to a chronic condition): we might hate it, but we start shrugging our shoulders and telling ourselves there’s nothing we can do about it. This is the thing I fear most: that the best parts of the American character–our capacity for optimism, generosity, joy, and hope–will be annihilated by the ceaseless bombardment of the worst parts. The key will be to sustain our bright sides while acknowledging every minute of the day that a very dark side is running things right now.

  75. As a resident of Toronto during the Rob Ford years, I am watching the unfolding of the Trump presidency with a horrified yet fascinated deja vu.

    There were a lot of predictions made about Ford’s trajectory, and they were mostly incorrect. Even on the basis of “a million monkeys and a million typewriters”, they still were more incorrect than probability would predict. Just as with Trump, there was a spike in coverage and interest in Toronto’s political shenanigans during the Ford years. In the end, it was a lot of talk, mostly which came to nothing.

    There are some ideas floating around about Trump, which I believe are disproved by Toronto’s experience with Ford.

    Most specifically, it’s the idea that the populace will become disenchanted, pissed-off that the Great Leader can’t deliver the goods, and will swing, not just to sanity, but to the other side of the political spectrum. Well, that did not happen in Toronto. Ford, despite driving drunk and admitting to snorting cocaine, amongst many other follies, would almost certainly have been re-elected. Well, he got cancer and died. But his thuggish and less-appealing brother Doug, who ran for mayor in Rob’s stead in the next election, got over 33% of the vote, in a three-way contest. Idiots on City Council who had their noses up Ford’s ass–Georgio Mammoliti being the top offender–were re-elected. The current mayor, John Tory, is relatively sane, but has a strong tendency to make policy as if he was afraid of facing a Ford (or Ford-type) in the next election.

    In summary, it’s imperative to work against the regime, and it will help moderate the insanity, but there is no quick cure, and I would not expect a wholesale change of voting in future elections. And speculation about what could happen in the next few years? It’s like those discussions soc.history.what-if. Amusing, sometimes enlightening, sometimes frustrating, but exercises in imagination, not prediction.

  76. There’s a reason it’s known as “The Daily Fail” in the UK,

    Also the Daily Hate Mail and the Daily Bile

  77. I’ve never used the “block” button so much. That being said, I am glad that the Democrats have grown spines. I appreciate Chris Murphy so much. I hope that this outrage is going to give the Republicans pause for thought, as more and more people get on the bus. These ICE deportations are frightening. (I started carrying my passport the day after the election). I think this is going to cause a lot of restructuring down the road.

    Spicer? Ugh, I went to college with him. So many people he went to college with are thoroughly disgusted by this. We went to a school with an honor code, that talked about intersectionality, etc. That had active social awareness groups. I think the McCarthy sketch really nailed him…when even CNN tweets a SNL sketch? hah. I do think that the newspapers/journalists are starting to wake up to how to deal with the Trump administration. Unfortunately, there is no quick and simple answer to the problem of Lord Dampnut.

    What really worries me is the anti-Muslim sentiment out there.

  78. What is both astounding and heartening is just how BAD a job the government did in court.

    They first attempted that favorite dumb trick of rookie attorneys who weren’t paying attention in law school and of less-rookie incompetents: selectively quoting a case to claim that it says something very different from its actual holding. Because they assumed the 9th Circuit wouldn’t actually read the cases? Who knows.

    They also screwed up by asking for more than they were entitled to, and if you are a fan of the idea that this administration is capable of nth-dimensional chess you could maybe squint and say they did it on purpose to try and line up precedent, but if so they botched that too. There is plenty of authority for the position that courts should give great deference to the executive on national security issues. But rather than run with that, they argued that courts are not even allowed to question the President on those issues, based on the firm precedent established in the seminal decision of *Jedi hand wave*.

    Of course, coming in unprepared to argue basic issues like “what’s the factual basis for this?” (you ought to be able to tap-dance better than that, Counselor) and then dodging questions in the hopes the court won’t notice you did (this is a Federal appellate court, not the White House press corps) is also not terribly impressive.

  79. @Zoebrain: Although US Marshals Service officers are Presidentially appointed, they report to the Federal courts (as their management chain), who also pay their salaries. The Executive Branch have no lawful power to issue them orders. (Unlawful power implicitly acknowledged.)

    Meanwhile, anyone else note the persistent rumour that Sarah Palin Herself is being considered for ambassador to Canada? (I said to a mortified friend in Alberta, ‘Don’t think of it as an embarrassingly bad appointment idea. Think of it as a career boost for Rick Mercer.)

    @Matt McIrvin: No, the President is not for any obvious reason immune against criminal prosecution; it’s an undecided legal question. Since 1982 case Nixon v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 731, the office has conferred partial immunity against civil litigation (for official acts while President), which shield has limits reverified in the 1997 USSC judgement of civil lawsuits against Bill Clinton related to the suit by Paula Jones.

    The matter of whether criminal prosecution is also constitutional was set to be decided in 1974, but then, Chief Justice Burger wrote that it was not necessary to address that question, in order to resolve the executive privilege issue then being heard in court, and so the matter has never been adjudicated. Until that court case happens, arguing one way or the other is the judicial equivalent of playing Fantasy Baseball.

  80. In case you and your followers haven’t heard, there’s a proposal for sending His Orangeness a letter or postcard – definitely snail mail – on the Ides of March. I think it’s a great idea. I hope you might take this under your wing and pass the idea on to your readers, fans and other followers.

    Can you imagine several million pieces of mail flooding the White House? Almost, but not quite, as good as the Women’s March.

    Also, keep in mind the March FOR Science on 22 April. When will we ever have a more valuable opportunity to promote fact based reality?

  81. As someone who lived in Utah for decades — Provo and Salt Lake — this article from the Atlantic sums up what I’m hearing from friends still living there, particularly this quote:

    “I think plenty of Utahans were fine with him investigating Hillary, but to see Chaffetz not going after what appear to be serious violations in the executive branch means it was partisanship and not moral imperative that drove him. And that’s unacceptable to Utahans.”

    Will this carry over into effective promotion of better GOP candidates and an energized GOTV effort? I don’t know. The Town Hall in question was held in SLC, which is in the 1st District, while Chaffetz represents the 3rd; if he does follow through on his aside re: not holding Town Halls outside Provo from here on out, it’s only 45 miles away — my spouse made that commute daily for years. Sufficiently upset Utah citizens angry about his lack of consistency on the House Oversight Committee wouldn’t hesitate to make that trip.

  82. Aren’t a lot of Chaffetz’ constituents also upset about his federal land grab for the oil and mining companies?

    I’m surprised that there aren’t more senior citizens up in arms over Trump’s executive order to get rid of the rule that requires financial advisors to have the client’s interests first. They’re the ones with the most to lost from this consumer rights rollback.

  83. Nice. I just read that Trump’s new ACA, Medicaid and Medicare hating HHS secretary apparently lied to Congress about how he got his discounted shares of Innate Immuno just before working on legislation that ultimately benefitted the company. It’s hard to say whether there will be much interest in Congress in pursuing it though, since it was through an invitation from a company director and fellow Congressmen, according the WSJ. I certainly don’t expect Chaffetz to do his job and investigate that…

  84. The Sarah Palin as ambassador to Canada rumour is all over the place up here, and the big question is whether Trump would see it as punishing Canada or as a friendly gesture. He’s quite capable of seeing it as something Canadians should appreciate, rather like when your cat leaves a dead rodent at your feet and meows proudly at you.

    Personally I don’t think it will happen. Ambassadors have to work, their personal staff aren’t there as servants to the boss who clean up verbal messes and there’s no opportunity for grift. The last one is key – who is she going to get money from in Canada just for breathing and saying stupid things? People will say rude things to her face or yell nasty words at her on the street – never believe the myth that Canadians are uber-polite, they can get just as nasty as we do and even more so in the face of what they’ll see as an insult like Palin’s presence.

    One definite difference between Canadians and Americans I’ve noticed for years is that the whole “ignorance is better than knowing what you’re talking about” thing doesn’t fly very far up here. The “average Canadian” is very much middle class in outlook and attitudes. Expertise is not an insult and while people have issues with particular policies, on the whole there’s not the anti-smart-people thing we see everyday. Perhaps not coincidentally, the evangelical/fundamentalist strain of Christian doesn’t have as much of a presence up here.

  85. Some stuff to point out to the Trumpers who voted for this piece of garbage: After all his “china is bad” chest thumping on the campaign trail, Trump has pivoted on china, says he will embrace one-china policy and will continue most of Obama’s diplomacy. The one exception is Trump pulled out of Obama’s TPP, which will have the effect of strengthening China’s trade with quite a few nations, to America’s detriment. Trump is pivoting on things so fast, his support can only go down.

    Another positive is that Indivisible seems to be gettimg more and more organized. I have a slightly better feeling about 2018 elections. If nothing else, Trump will probably cause a boost in Dem turnout in the next midterm election. Maybe enough to flip the senate if indivisible can channel voters’ anti-trump rage properly.

    https://www.indivisibleguide.com

    The next 4 years are going to suck for America.

  86. “Trump administration’s argument is “the courts shouldn’t be able to review executive orders”” –
    Funny. Obama made the same argument for many of his own executive orders and actions, many of which were issued in order to bypass Congressional purview or to revoke earlier executive orders. The Bushes and Clinton did the same things, so nothing new under the sun here, except for the outrage. And all of Trump’s predecessors got slapped down by the courts more than once, just as we are seeing with Trump.

  87. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) did not vote yea to confirm Sessions. As I understand, her husband was having heart surgery that day, and she was at the hospital, not in Senate chambers. So, every Democrat voted against Sessions. Now, had McCaskill voted, I’m going to assume she would vote against his confirmation; but, she does tend to side with Republicans from time to time. Most likely she does so to keep her seat in red Missouri. I have very mixed feelings about her.

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