“Trump hasn’t staged a coup, and so far our institutions are holding up. But he’s doing more damage every day.”
By Heather Digby Parton | Salon | January 30, 2018
“There seems to be a consensus that over the course of the last few months Trump has shown an alarming propensity to abuse his power, but it’s still unclear whether there is a clear case that he broke the law. If it can be proven that he has abused his power or broken the law, the one remedy everyone can agree upon — as with any president — is impeachment.
Because the Republican majority in Congress is acting as Trump’s accomplices rather than a co-equal branch of government with oversight responsibility and an obligation to defend the Constitution, however, impeachment is highly unlikely. The GOP caucus in both houses is barely keeping up the pretense of investigating Russian interference in the election, and one group of powerful members is trying to create an alternative scandal, accusing top officials at the FBI and the Department of Justice of conspiring to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign and destroy the Trump administration. Trump himself has been pushing this operation, telling Chief of Staff John Kelly and supposedly recused Attorney General Jeff Sessions to aid in the effort.
The FBI is under assault by a rogue group of powerful lawmakers and the power of the president of the United States. These elected officials are deeply authoritarian by instinct, ideology and temperament. They are clearly using their authority to undermine the rule of law and democratic norms and practices, not uphold them.
This president and his henchmen could create an authoritarian regime within the rough boundaries of the Constitution and the imprimatur of democratic legitimacy. It would hardly be unprecedented. It’s the way it happens in the modern world. Political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have written a new book, “How Democracies Die,” which surveys how democratic nations can slide into authoritarianism when they lose their willingness to live by two specific norms: mutual toleration and forbearance.”
The first is the belief that the opposition is operating in good faith and with a common love of country. The other is the forbearance not to push the boundaries of power, something that all the players in our system have more of than the law can possibly constrain on its own.
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) January 21, 2018
Duckworth to “draft dodger” Trump: Don’t lecture me on the military
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in combat, blasted President Trump — whom she branded as a draft-dodging “Cadet Bone Spurs” — in a speech on the Senate floor yesterday for blaming Democrats for holding military pay hostage in the GOP-forced 2018 government shutdown.
America needs @ltgrusselhonore General Honore to march into WA DC w/ the #CajunNation #CajunArmy #CajunNavy & defend the United States Constitution from enemies domestic & foreign. Our nation is at great peril. @GaiaCapitalist #VetsResistSupportSquadron #RESIST #GodBeWithUs #FBR
Great to see how hard Republicans are fighting for our Military and Safety at the Border. The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked. If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, no C.R.’s!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 21, 2018
What is the Nuclear Option?
The nuclear option (or constitutional option) is a parliamentary procedure that allows the United States Senate to override a rule – notably the 60-vote rule to close debate – by a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than the two-thirds supermajority normally required to amend the rules. The option is invoked when the majority leader raises a point of order that only a simple majority is needed to close debate on certain matters. The presiding officer denies the point of order based on Senate rules, but the ruling of the chair is then appealed and overturned by majority vote, establishing new precedent.
This procedure effectively allows the Senate to decide any issue by simple majority vote, regardless of existing procedural rules such as Rule XXII which requires the consent of 60 senators (out of 100) to end a filibuster for legislation, and 67 for amending a Senate rule. The term “nuclear option” is an analogy to nuclear weapons being the most extreme option in warfare.
The nuclear option has only been used in practice twice. In November 2013, Senate Democrats used the nuclear option to eliminate the 60-vote rule on executive branch nominations and federal judicial appointments other than those to the Supreme Court. In April 2017, Senate Republicans used the nuclear option to eliminate the exception for Supreme Court nominees, after the nomination of Neil Gorsuch failed to meet the requirement of 60 votes for ending the debate.
The threat to use it dates back at least to 1917, in opinions related to reform of the Senate’s filibuster rules. Subsequently, an opinion written by Vice President Richard Nixon in 1957 concluded that the U.S. Constitution grants the presiding officer the authority to override existing Senate rules. The option was used to make further rule changes in 1975.
As of January 2018, a three-fifths majority vote is still required to end debates on legislation.
Even if one is prone to give the benefit of the doubt, Donald J Trump’s first year as President of the United States has been 24/7/365 chaos. The Grand Old Party is renamed “The Greedy Oligarchy Party” in 2018 as they march us towards totalitarianism.
Totalitarianism – a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible.
As of this writing, the federal government has been shutdown for 33 hours (and counting) with Washington DC embroiled in a high-stakes game of brinkmanship. The Republican-controlled House & Senate did not pass the budget for 2018 by October 1st of last year as required by the Constitution. Funding the government is a primary duty of Congress.
“Mr. Trump’s first year has been an unremitting parade of disgraces that have demeaned him as well as the dignity of his office, and he has shown that this is exactly how he believes he should govern.
Most important, he is the first president to fail to defend the nation from an attack on our democracy by a hostile foreign power — and to resist the investigation of that attack. He is the first to enrich his private interests, and those of his family, directly and openly.
He is the first president to denounce the press not simply as unfair but as “the enemy of the American people.” He is the first to threaten his defeated political opponent with imprisonment. He is the first to have denigrated friendly countries and allies as well as a whole continent with racist vulgarities.
George Washington warned that the actions of a president “may have great and durable consequences from their having been established at the commencement of a new general government.” If history is any guide — especially in light of the examples closest to his, of Buchanan and Andrew Johnson — Mr. Trump’s first year portends a very unhappy ending.”
Source: NYTimes.com 01/20/18
Poll: more Americans blame Republicans for this shutdown mess rather than Democrats
A total of 48 percent of respondents pointed the finger at the president and his party for the stalemate over immigration and border security that’s prevented Congress from reaching a deal to keep the government open.
The inclusion of CHIP was simply a stunt. Republicans should have funded the program all the way back in September, but did not — partly because they were focused on Obamacare repeal and tax cuts for billionaires, and partly because, as Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy callously put it, the lives of sick kids could be used as “leverage.”
“To deny we are in the Epic Battle for the Soul of America is to aid & assist the enemy eager to take us down.”
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) gave the most important speech I’ve heard in my lifetime. At 66, I’ve lived through the Cold War, the Vietnam War, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, the Iraq War but I have never witnessed such clear & present danger to America as I see now in the intent & actions of this president’s administration.
Just as Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech is not political rhetoric, Senator Flake did not deliver a partisan political speech. We are sure to hear defensive Trumpsters amplifying White House talking points on social media & altRIGHT “news” sites like Breitbart News, InfoWars, Stone Cold Truth et.al. But, whatever Trump & his people say about Jeff Flake & his motivations, no one can argue with the empirical evidence & the conclusions he so carefully presented.
It’s not as if he’s the lone voice, the disgruntled politician who can’t win an election crying out for attention. Some of the wisest, most respected human beings on Earth are expressing the same concerns. Indeed, Pope Francis has dedicated his May 2018 forum to understanding the scourge of Fake News & it’s effect on free elections around the world.
“How Democracies Die” by Daniel Ziblatt & Steven Levitsky:
A bracing, revelatory look at the demise of liberal democracies around the world—and a road map for rescuing our own. Donald Trump’s presidency has raised questions that many of us never thought we’d be asking: Is our democracy in danger?
Yes. Democracies around the globe are in danger of authoritarian takeover. Worse, Trump has slammed the door shut on fledgeling democracies who once looked to America as a role model.
“The United States used to be a beacon of light, hope & wisdom. We stood tallest among our brethren because we are fortunate to have a people resolute & strong, a homeland rich in resource & treasure & a government of the people, by the people, for the people.”