More gruel
There is good news

There is good news

NATO leaders trying not to laugh during Trump’s speech in Brussels

Trump’s tenure has been a jaw-rattling ride, full of embarrassments and disasters, but so far the damage is relatively light. It will get worse. The period after he leaves office could be the most difficult and dangerous in our lifetimes. Nevertheless, there are some bright spots. It is good for our mental health to take stock of a few positive developments.

– Andrew Breitbart’s loathsome life project has pretty much collapsed. Revenue has dried up and any pretense of legitimacy is gone. Sharing a Breitbart article has become the social media equivalent of waving a Confederate flag. It isn’t illegal, but it communicates to the whole world that you’re an asshole.

– With a majority in Congress and control of the White House, Republicans can’t pass a salt-shaker. The most consequential legislation Republicans have enacted under Trump happened in their first two weeks – a bill that frees US companies to pay bribes to foreign governments. Let that sink in.

– Perhaps unsurprisingly, for a president who lost his election by a record gap, Trump is the most unpopular chief executive in our history. His administration has not been normalized. To the contrary it has delegitimized his political party and turned his followers into toxic outcasts. We aren’t through fighting this cancer by a long shot, but our turn toward American Fascism has so far been a thudding failure.

– The Nazification of the Republican Party was scary at first, but it may be launching them into a death spiral. It is impossible to be an “out” Republican in almost any legitimate commercial or social setting anymore. Sure, you can get away with it in the South, where people still talk about lynching political opponents, but that has limited reach. Losing legitimacy means you can no longer recruit talent. No one with self-respect and intelligence is going to work for Republicans right now. We are seeing what that means in the utter dysfunction that has swallowed the GOP at every level, from the Texas Legislature to the White House. Left in the hands of greedy cynics and creeps, you can only keep the wheels on for so long.

– Trump is crippled. He can still do a lot of damage, but whatever policy agenda his supporters might have hoped for will have to wait for a successor. It’s hard to say how long Trump will remain in the White House. We have never successfully impeached a President. A House impeachment (which cannot happen before 2019) only functions like an indictment. Obtaining a conviction on that indictment in the Senate is designed to be nearly impossible. If he wasn’t so dumb and lazy he could still get a lot done, but all he seems to care about is the daily injuries to his snowflake ego. He has accomplished little and his power is declining.

– Successful impeachment may be unlikely, but criminal prosecution is a different story. When Trump fired the Assistant US AG that the Russians hate most passionately, that guy walked across the street to join the New York State AG’s office. Preet Bharara is now continuing his work under a politically friendly administration. Expect a RICO prosecution, probably related to Russian money laundering (see the Deutsche Bank case). It may take some time, perhaps not coming this year. Can a sitting president be prosecuted for a crime? It is a Constitutionally ambiguous question that would have to be decided by the Supreme Court. Can a president be prosecuted after leaving office for crimes he committed prior to becoming president? Again, ambiguous, but he almost certainly can be. That’s why Nixon resigned, handing the office to a man he felt would probably pardon him. No one is going to pardon Trump for what he’s done. With that in mind, Trump’s administration is most likely to end with him walking away from the White House while he still can and fleeing the country.

– Polling suggests that Democrats enjoy a staggering 16-point advantage in the generic party preference polls for next year’s Congressional elections. For context, thanks to geographic distributions and gerrymandering, Democrats would need an advantage of around 3-4 points to gain any ground in the House. However, that gerrymandered house of cards absolutely craters once a Democratic advantage tops roughly 7%. The 2006 wipeout was based on a 10pt advantage in a very differently structured electorate. Republican resilience up to a 4pt generic decline comes at the cost of enormous fragility nationwide at a higher losing margin.

– Looking beyond polls, the actual, measured results so far in Congressional special elections indicate a swing toward the Democrats from the 2016 results (an election they won, remember) of about 15pts. In the Kansas special election the swing was more than 22pts. Farther down the ballot we are seeing signs of a historic purge, which is a continuation of what we saw in the 2016 results. In a solidly Republican Long Island State Assembly district a Democrat won last week in a rout. The same week a Democrat won a state legislative seat in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire for the first time in history. The long decline of the GOP in its old Northern and Western strongholds seems to be reaching a tipping point under Trump.

– Fox News is in chaos. Back in the 90’s I used to amuse myself by reading the English translations of official statements from Yugoslavia’s information ministry. I’m finding myself doing the same thing now with Fox News. Those poor soulless bastards are struggling to find anything to put on a TV screen. Ratings are down. Ailes is dead. O’Reilly is in exile. Hannity has crosshairs on his forehead. Their bigoted old viewers are dying off at an accelerating rate. They are a media mirror of the Republican Party itself. Keep an eye on 21st Century Fox’s stock. Ratings from Fox News last year were a bright spot for that troubled company. With ratings plummeting, there may be a shakeup in the works.

Raise the flag this weekend. Celebrate those who gave their lives to place this country in our hands. Let’s recommit ourselves to the gift they bought for us, with all its duties and obligations. There is hope for our future, but it depends on our commitment to be worthy of their sacrifice, and our willingness to make our own if duty calls.


  1. Trump is a convenient distraction for the Republican Party. They created Trump, like bakers cultivate yeast for bread. They weren’t expecting their yeast to take over the bakery, but it’s causing enough of a stir that nobody’s noticed them swallowing the recipe that caused it. “It was an accident”, they can say.

    The problem runs deep in how the Republican Party deliberately divided the country. Some may say ‘polarized’, but at this point, it’s practically ionized. Trump, despite reality, still has 40% polling approval. The Republican Party’s ‘yeast’ has created a voting base so hardcore, They’re bouncing a Russian rocket off them and they won’t flinch.

    Lines are being drawn at the political level, the parties now consist of about 8% ideological moderates or less, and it’s getting worse. Unless bipartisanship returns to political discourse, the political parties are throwing the recipe for a civil war into a pressure cooker. Militarized police can put a damper on small groups and individuals that act out, but sooner or later the country is going to blow it’s top if this continues.

    1. Fox is only in ‘chaos’ because of inconvenient missteps and a news media that has been cranked into overdrive like speed-tripping sharks in a feeding frenzy. CNN alone has been running the line for journalistic burnout or cardiac arrest compared to their usual dumpster-journalism (“I’m standing outside by the dumpster where in a few hours…”).

      There’s blood and smoke, so the watchers now see everything. That’s what Fox ran afoul of. It’s stuff that would have been easily buried under ‘normal’ (now a fanciful memory) conditions over a weekend.

  2. This is my first post here, and I won’t make many cuz I live — very happily — in a small country (Costa Rica) under conditions that include limited internet access. But I’m happy with that trade-off against all the obvious crap that’s taking place in my native land. Yes, I’m still a US citizen, one who emerged from the womb many years ago as a Republican, male, Catholic, Californian kid. I still hold to all of those values — except for the past year.

    I simply could not bring myself to vote for Trump. So, holding my nose, I cast my first vote ever for a Democratic Presidential candidate and I do not regret the decision one iota. But I am still conservative by nature, so unwilling to become a D. I don’t really like the Independent label, b/c we are a 2 party nation. The idea of “orphan” suits me just fine just now. I have just read through a lot of the comments to Chris Ladd’s recent comments on Trump’s antics and find a lot of great thinking.

    I’m a political junkie, and have been around the game most of my life. Glad I moved down here (result of the 2008 crash), far away from the fallout. Basically, I’ve never seen the US in such a bitterly divided, contentious state — full of hatred. When I worked on Capitol Hill, and other places in DC, we used to fight like crazy during the day, and then drink with our adversaries at night. Frenemies. No more is that true.

    Legal eagles say you can indict a grapefruit. Whether or not that description fits the subject in question, this House of Reps ain’t gonna indict this president. I think it would be more likely that the Senate would convict (even with the 2/3 requirement) than to expect an impeachment. So, the other possibilities discussed are more reasonable. But then you would have Mike Pence. Well, maybe better. But who will the D’s nominate? They don’t seem well organized (from my poor vantage point down here.)

    Trump is now, again, talking about reorganizing the WH. Bringing back some of his old cadre. Fine. Well, one of the names is David Bossie. Back in the Clinton impeachment days, I served out my final Govt years (in order to get to retirement) on the committee of jurisdiction and worked with Bossie. He has an absolute one-track mind. Negative toward anything that smells of Clinton. He’s not a deep thinker, not the kind of person we want developing public policy for the future. He’s nothing but a nay-sayer. He fits into the Breitbart class, so I don’t think that ideology is going away. And until it’s gone, the GOP is toast. A very interesting comment was made in an earlier post: Trump might just as well withdraw from the Paris Accord because to sign it and then do nothing to promote it is actually WORSE (and more disingenuous) than to cancel our participation, as terrible a thought as that is.

    What has our nation wrought?

    1. Bad as things are, take solace in the fact that it could’ve been much, much worse. We could’ve elected a man with a functioning brain and an eye for policy rather than a self-destructive moron. Frankly, he’s given us all we need to take him down, and for that we should be grateful.

      1. I’m waiting for the “take him down” part……..My problem is the heir apparent sucks as well. We’ll go from arrogant, small-minded, narcissism to a religious nut. Some might call that progress, not me.

      2. It’s nothing we should celebrate, but at the very least, Pence would play within the rules of the system that Trump is perfectly content to wipe his ass with. Getting that incompetent clown out of the Oval Office is our first priority, and to the extent that we then have to hold Pence and his radical agenda at bay, we have to make sure the House goes Democratic next year. Do that and then we turn our eyes to ’20, where, hopefully, we can gain a Democratic trifecta and focus on an actual agenda again.

        Barring the best laid plans of mice and men, if we can work all that out, I’ll be ecstatic.

    2. I’m curious – You stated “I am still conservative by nature, so unwilling to become a D. ” History documents that under Democratic governance, there has been greater fiscal stability and efficiency than under Republican governance. When Democrats are in control, the lament from conservatives is constant and noisy about deficit spending, run away welfare, inefficient, unnecessary government programs, etc. Yet, when given the opportunity to govern, Republicans run up the deficit (Reagan, GWB and apparently Trump) with seeming nonchalance.

      Thus, I find your statement confusing. Would you explain? All the way from lovely Costa Rica….a place I love…

    3. In further amplification of the outcome re Trump’s decision on the Paris Accord, I offer this from WaPo.

      “Some climate experts actually suggest that, given Trump’s steady dismantling of environmental protections, it’s better for the United States to leave the pact altogether than to undermine it from within.”

  3. DS

    I would caution against too much optimism with regard to Trump leaving office prior to the end of his term. David Frum has made the point, in rather solid fashion, that much of the conduct of Trump and his campaign is likely to have been dangerous/immoral, rather than strictly illegal. One of the major down sides to the special counsel is that we’re unlikely to hear the sordid details unless there’s something clearly prosecutable that’s within his mandate. It’s certainly possible that someone else will try to prosecute him for conduct pre-dating the election, but that’s also a long investigation and a Supreme Court decision away from happening.

    I remain convinced that our best hope is for the man to choke on a Cheeto, or to keep stuffing himself with KFC and McDonald’s until he strokes out screaming at cable news.

    With respect to the special elections, I’d remind folks that there are ~160 bluer districts for Democrats to compete in than Montana. They need to win in roughly 25 of those to take the House. The special elections have essentially no impact on the current math in the House, so I’d say that, so far, these contests have been a spectacular example of getting your opponent to expend significant resources at no appreciable cost to yourself.

    1. The special elections have offered a compelling opportunity for grassroots organizations to flex their muscle – and to see what can be achieved with GOTV and sheer hard work and small contributions. It’s offered time and lessons to newly engaged people who have enthusiasm and desire for change. Women, in particular, are dominating the movements. And, they vote.
      KS candidate James Townsend promises to run again. I don’t think he’ll be ignored by the DCCC again, but if he is, grassroots support will be smarter and better positioned to help him. Beto O’Rourke who is taking on Cruz in TX is a steller candidate, and there are others. I can’t speak for others, but my efforts and donations will go directly to candidates.

      Frankly, I share your view that it is going to be difficult to move Trump out of office on his bad actions. What I do think is that if the Republicans are unable to function effectively, that mid-terms will afford the nation the opportunity to speak out by voting out of office those who are impediments. I am impressed with the efforts of the Democratic MOC as well as the feisty Democratic (and some Republican) governors to thwart irrational policies, but this doesn’t replace having control of at least one house of Congress. That’s the long game and that’s where we all must focus our efforts.

    2. “I remain convinced that our best hope is for the man to choke on a Cheeto, or to keep stuffing himself with KFC and McDonald’s until he strokes out screaming at cable news.”

      LOL…..yes, I keep hoping and I do picture him surrounded by fast food screaming at the tv. The man looks very unhealthy and the fact he took a golf cart while everyone else walked is telling.

      1. Funny, I’d say those who are having to serve him – assistants, department and cabinet heads, secret service, etc are far more likely to be stressed than Trump is. The man has no sense of shame or reality…better chance of him getting hit by lighting on the greens of Mar del lago……

  4. Sorry Chris, but you are wrong. The puppet tyrant has done immense damage already with his polices, much which cannot be undone.

    I don’t particularly blame him putting another hard right guy on the Supreme Court bench, as any republican would have. But it happened on his watch.

    But consider these issues:

    1. Even if aliens dropped from the skies and installed a Democratic president, Senate, and Congress, reversing the cuts to the EPA will take years to rectify. Once the data is scrubbed, some of it is gone forever.
    2. The credibility damage he has done to so many democratic institutions, plus the media, might never ever be reversed.
    3. The changes to healthcare once again will take decades to fix. When the next administration takes over and tries to repair the damage, the pushback from the vested interests will be enormous. I can see many many legal challenges to any changes, which will end up in the legacy trump SCOTUS.

    And the biggie: Reports say today that the idiot does truly plan on pulling out of the Paris Accord. That repercussions of that will dwarf all other damage this cabal can, and will do. Global warming impacts every part of the planet, and the economic damage, the human costs, are beyond the comprehension of the average person. Forget about the issues in places like Miami, Boston, or Louisiana when the sea rises. Imagine the what happens when nuclear-armed India and Pakistan start fighting over water from the Indus system of rivers.

    1. It is very important to maintain a sense of scale and perspective. As this mess plays out, one thought keeps rolling around in my brain – George W. Bush was a far worse president than I realized at the time.

      When people point to the damage being done by this administration, you very quickly realize that almost all of it is a weak, unimpressive continuation of forces set loose under GWB. From the politicization of our core institutions, to the collapse of our global reputation nothing Trump is actually doing (as opposed to things he’s threatened and failed to do), can hold a candle to what GWB did.

      The accumulated damage will be bad, but those surface issues (specific policies or court appointments) are the least of it. The real harm is to the legitimacy of our institutions and our general sense of public trust. That started under GWB (arguably Clinton, really) and has never been addressed. Those deeper systemic issues are the ones that will be difficult or impossible to fix, not putting data back on the EPA website.

      1. “Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair.”

        I for one don’t think it’s impossible to repair the damage that’s been done, but it’s going to take a very, very long time. Perhaps most important to this effort is the consistent, engaged effort of citizens being involved in their government and holding it to account. If not, we’re only going to continue in this downwards spiral and things will get even worse.

        One thing’s for sure though. If we have a modestly functioning government after this is all over, we’re gonna need to do a complete reworking of the powers of the presidency and how to hold the office to account. Trump has proved that the real check and balance in the office is the president himself, and that’s just not gonna cut it anymore.

      2. Daresay I suggest that the only reason the president is a power unto himself is because his party is refusing to hold him accountable? There is more at work here than simple arrogance. There is also abdication of responsibility.

      3. With that in mind though, we’re going to have presidents with their party in control of both houses of Congress now and in the future. Had Clinton been elected, she would’ve been the only Democrat in, iirc, over a hundred years that didn’t come into office with Democrats in full control.

        Whether its Democrats, Republicans or whatever other political party emerges, we need to prepare for the worst-case scenario and rethink the powers and oversight of the presidency.

      4. Do we know for sure that had Clinton won, that at least one of the houses wouldn’t have gone blue? The presidential “tail” is long. At the very least, the majorities in each house would have been much more tenuous and America would have had a smart, grown up who understands how government works sitting in the White House (versus margo del lago).

      5. Frankly, we could go back and forth on that possibility all day long. There’s no way to be sure, but to try and answer your question as best as I can, you’d be well served to read “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign”. While a book about the presidential campaign, it sheds light on a self-centered mindset, both in Clinton herself and her campaign, that focused on themselves at the expense of others.

        Frankly, after reading it, I have an extremely hard time believing that even if they had managed to squeak out a win for the presidency, there would’ve been little to no coattails for Democrats to ride.

      6. We’ll never know, will we? What matters more is that we move forward with something that is better. Things cannot continue in this volatile, mean-spirited environment without our country losing something far more important than political control…..we are losing our belief in democracy and in the value of responsible government. We are losing our ability to relate, empathize and have a shared experience.

        I haven’t read the book, don’t plan on reading it, but have read numerous reviews….When the dust settles, I still believe America would have been better off under a limited president Clinton than it has been with Trump. Clinton may be self-serving but she does value our country and has worked at understanding what is needed. The fact that she and her campaign team were unsuccessful is terribly unfortunate but doesn’t make me feel one whit better about the dangerous fool we have leading our country now.

      7. To be clear, Clinton would have and is infinitely preferable to the incompetence we have in the Oval Office today. All I’m saying is she had a lot of problems in her campaign (much more than what we saw on the surface) and it ultimately came down to her lackings, both personal and professional. Even to this today she continues to lay the blame for her loss on Comey, and that’s just not a mindset that one can have in a leader.

      8. I understood your point but take exception to Clinton laying blame for her loss on Comey’s lap. I firmly believe that his announcement turned the tide in the election. I do not disagree that there were other problems in the campaign, but this to me was pivotal.

      9. >] “I understood your point but take exception to Clinton laying blame for her loss on Comey’s lap. I firmly believe that his announcement turned the tide in the election. I do not disagree that there were other problems in the campaign, but this to me was pivotal.

        But, mime, that being the case, it begs the question as to why Clinton was ever vulnerable enough in the first place for Comey to be a deciding factor? Why was she so weak among her potential voters that they’d be swayed by that? It was only in ’08 that she was the candidate of working-class whites. She should’ve seen her weakness (which she did, IMO), but simply couldn’t or wouldn’t address it.

        You’ll find the answer is precisely my point. She was susceptible because her campaign was weak and, more than enough, she didn’t have her own vision for America. I know it and, behind the scenes, her campaign team knew it too. She dug her own grave.

      10. We’re talking “degrees of separation” here, Ryan. Like most here, I’ve agonized over what went wrong that would place an imbecile like Trump into America’s presidency and concluded after a lot of reading that it was many things, including those to which you refer. That said, Comey’s announcement was, I maintain, the tipping point. Remember, Clinton lost by mere votes in 3 states and won the popular vote by over 2 million….I would have settled for a squeaker with Clinton prevailing, regardless what her shortcomings were. She was/is so much better qualified than Trump. As sports fans acknowledge, winning by one point is still a win. Trump won – Russia helped, Comey helped, Clinton’s strategy didn’t respond to populist concerns. That, is history. Clinton was ahead by 9 points when Comey got involved. I don’t think anyone can honestly say what impact that announcement had on turning aside her momentum in the final days of early voting, but in my opinion, it mattered – “hugely”.

    2. Several Points:

      1. Yes, T is doing a great deal of harm to the health care system. However, keeping things in perspective, prior to the ACA the individual health insurance market was failing, we were approaching of above 40 million uninsured, costs were skyrocketing and even the employment based system was on the verge of failure. None of the R proposals will fix the problems. The R’s would generally like to return to the pre-ACA, but they cannot. Very possibly there will be a total complete collapse including the employment based system. That could finally create a consensus for comprehensive reform that even the R’s cannot ignore, despite their belief that good healthcare should be reserved for the fortunate.

      2. There was a major effort to archive EPA data before it could be deleted. I hope this effort was successful. At this time how much data was saved, is not known.

      3. Hopefully, pulling out of the Paris Accord will not have much actual impact. Many of the trends such as towards renewable power are already baked in and are occurring at the state level. Just pulling out of the Accord will not affect those. That is not to say that global warming is not the biggest challenge of our time, but maybe pulling out will not be as bad as it seems. The tragedy is in deemphasizing the challenge. It also gives nations like India, China and Brazil an excuse for not following through on their commitments.

      4. I very much agree that the major damage is to our institutions and the concurrent politicization of those institutions. GWB accelerated the damage, but the R’s have been deliberately doing that for many years. Chris, I agree that GWB was a very bad President and that the trends were in place during Clinton’s administration, but I think the trend actually began when the hard-right seized control of the GOP during the Reagan administration. That is when the moderate wing of the GOP began to be forced out.

      I am becoming more and more convinced that we are in the throes of a major realignment of our political system. But, will not go into that here.

      1. Frankly, I’d rather Trump not sign on to the Paris Climate Agreement as it will be purely a token – given his appointees, his wishy-washy posturing on the issue, and his general track record of supporting conservative positions (opposing global warming is as old as dirt for Republicans) – I’d prefer he completely opt out and let the other six nations who have affirmed their intention to go forward with or without the United States. I am under no delusions about the value of having the political and financial backing of America to advancing the tenets of the Parish agreement, but half-baked, or sabotaging it would be worse.

      2. Republicans’ divergence from their origins goes back much further than Reagan, though it clearly accelerated under him. You can look back as far as to the days of Theodore Roosevelt and find Republicans who looked at the South and thought they should compromise the Party of Lincoln for political power. This is a dynamic that has played out across our political spectrum for generations and the only way to end it is to change the way Southern politics works.

        Fortunately for us, we may well be in an age where an honest opportunity for that kind of transformative reformation is at hand. It’s long overdue.

  5. Chris, what’s your opinion of the special races in KS, GA, and MT so far? I think they serve a counterpoint to your seeing democratic success in local assembly seats.

    MT and KS are already losses, and IMHO, the GA seat is likely to stay republican as well. We’ll have to see, but generally the time to run an insurgent campaign is in the first round of a runoff. In the second round, you get higher voter participation, which tends to swamp any insurgent and help incumbents. So if Ossoff won 48%, he’s likely to lose. I’d love to be proven wrong, but that’s what tends to happen in a lot of runoff-based elections.

    But more importantly, as a liberal Bernie supporter, this demonstrates the Dem party’s tone deafness since our Nov. loss. Howard Dean ran a 50-state strategy which is how the Dems won such huge majorities by 2008. The whole “triangulate, support moderate Republican-lite candidates, cede 50 unopposed seats to begin with”-type strategy is what led to failure from 1994 – 2006. And that’s what they’re doubling down on now.

    Now, I’m under no illusions that raving liberals could win in republican-dominated districts. But it seems to me that the Dem establishment ceded KS and MT elections, while betting heavily on a moderate candidate in GA, which is essentially the old strategy that’s allowed the Republicans to maintain their majority. Given that all three lost (yes, losing the runoff despite spending millions in the district is a loss), I’m worried that their strategy will waste the 2018 opportunity.

    What did you think of Dean’s 50-state strategy, and would you advocate a narrow focus on winning the 20-odd seats needed for a slim majority, or would you seek to broaden the field to capitalize on a possible wave?

    P.S. Also, regarding your earlier post on that awesome Trump photo. I think it’s a given the Dems will not capitalize on it 🙂 But if you were their advertising director, what would you do with it?

    1. I totally agree with the 50-state strategy and with every comment you made. The D’s need to compete in all 435 seats. The KS & MT seats were winnable and should have gotten national support. The GA race deserves support, but don’t write-off seats like KS & MT. The national D’s tend to focus on the East coast.

      I even see the tendency to write-off rural seats in the Washington State D Party, in favor of focusing on the urban seats, they are likely to win anyway. That and moderate gerrymandering is the reason that the R’s have controlled the state Senate since December 2012.

    2. Your frustration’s understandable, but even though it’s easy enough to say MT was winnable (Gov. Bullock and Sen. Tester have both won statewide races twice, obvs), it’s important to take things in context. Cook Political Report still rates MT as as R +11. It’s a tough slog no matter how you slice it, and even with that, Quist was still able to cut Trump’s margin of victory in the state by more than half.

      Could more resources and support from Democrats have cut it even more? Sure. Enough to win? No one knows that for sure, but what’s important now is to argue that with the margin being as close as it was, Dems should go all in to win it next year.

      That aside, I actually think Ossoff has a pretty good chance to win the runoff in Georgia’s 6th next month. Polls are looking good for him and mail-in ballots (where Ossoff absolutely dominated in the primary) are on track to eclipse the primary, maybe even double. Grit your teeth and focus on what our next move should be. 🙂

      1. I agree with you about Orsoff’s chances. No slam dunk, but very possible. It would be a real boost to the resistance movement for Orsoff to win. Goodness knows the grassroots has been pulling their weight since January. Unlike the other states which held special elections, and the Democratic national organization was barely visible, it has been a player in GA. However, Orsoff didn’t wait for them or rely on them. He’s been a magnificent fundraiser on his own. Plus, he’s articulate and a rational centrist candidate who presents well and is well informed. He will make a great MOC. Karen Handel is just one more run of the mill conservative – whose checkered past should be motivation enough for most to vote against her. She will add nothing to Congress if elected.

        I have lamented the fact that the DNC failed to return Howard Dean to lead the party when he showed interest in doing so. He has been the most competent person in that role that I’ve observed, and got great results. So, of course, he’s ignored.

      2. GA-6 has a PVI of R+8,which is not *that* much easier than Montana. Yet why did Dems choose to invest there? I can’t help but think it wasn’t a pure numbers analysis. My frustration is its still largely the approach of screw rural areas and focus on rich suburban districts”, which worked out so well in 2016. This is reinforced by the developing narrative that we “won” in GA and therefore should keep plowing into Republican swing suburbs, while we “lost” in MT which means we should cede the rural space. This despite the fact that we lost both elections so far (crossing my fingers on GA) and came pretty close in Montana with a candidate who probably wasn’t even the best fit. If that’s the narrative the DCCC takes away, then we’re toast in 2018.

        Even As a Bernie supporter, I acknowledge that quist may not have been the best candidate for Montana. We likely needed a more moderate guy. And maybe if the Dems got involved earlier, that might have happened.

        I’m just seeing the same strategy from the Dem party that has led to staggering losses over multiple elections.

    3. First of all, Democrats should be thrilled with the results so far. None of these races should have been remotely competitive. Numbers they are racking up in these special elections suggest a pretty heavy gain next year. We’ve never seen a pivot this big. Something strange is happening in this electorate, bigger and deeper than in 2010.

      As far as a 50-state strategy, let’s try to remember that it’s just a slogan. We don’t have national parties anymore. We don’t even have national politics. Unless some smart people initiate a strategy to create sub-partisan coalitions in Congress, about 60-70% of Congressional districts will remain locked up by one party or the other indefinitely, due to geography and tribalism.

      There is no f-g way that a Democrat is going to be competitive in rural Kansas or Mississippi under present alignments no matter what policies they embrace or candidates they run. That just isn’t how this works right now.

      As for what I’d do with that photo and others like it (especially Trump’s golf pictures), I would make sure every state level Democratic consultant had instructions to work them into every form of visual media, regardless of the subject matter. I might go so far as to send them a link to this ad used by Saxby Chambliss to attack the patriotism of a sitting US Senator who lost his limbs at the battle of Khe Sanh.

      Thanks to a campaign anchored by that message, a Vietnam vet who won the Bronze and Silver stars in combat lost his race to a complete shithead who had skipped the war to go to law school and get rich. And the reason Cleland lost – because voters trusted Saxby to “keep America safe.” In a democracy, you win the battle for the message, or you lose everything.

      1. The RNC hasn’t gotten the message. They continue to double-down on Trump. “RNC spokesman Ryan Mahoney declined to address the specifics of the meeting but said the RNC is increasing its efforts to bolster Trump.

        “The RNC’s role is to support the president,” Mahoney said. “We’re focused on creating as much content as possible to ensure we’re messaging effectively and doing so quickly in order to promote and defend this administration. It’s our top priority.”

        If there is one thing the RNC does well, it’s messaging – aka “spin”. They’re in so deep that using truth as a tool is no longer possible – that divide has grown wider with each new revelation. The best way to support democracy right now is to subscribe to a major investigative newspaper. Consider it an investment in your future and that of our country.

      2. Thanks for replying. I agree that Dems aren’t going to be winning in deep south MS anytime soon (aside from gerrymandered majority-minority districts). There is certainly a balance between wasting resources and energy in unwinnable districts, and investing to maximize your potential gains. I guess my main beef is just that with nearly identical results (i.e. nearly equal, massive swings towards the Dems in suburban districts with moderate candidates and rural districts with liberal candidates), the Dem establishment has decided one is a “winning” strategy, and one is a “losing” strategy, despite the objective evidence being — IMHO — that both are viable strategies and should be pursued. And this narrative happens to conveniently be the one that requires the least change and introspection by the party from its 2016 strategy. That leaves me worried that the results will be similar to 2016…

        Re: the pictures. Yes, I remember that race well. It boiled my blood. Chambliss dodged the draft by claiming a bum knee, then paints triple-amputee Cleland as the one whose patriotism is suspect. But you’re right, you can’t argue with results: draft dodging GWB copied that playbook in 2004 to impugn John Kerry’s patriotism. Republican convention goers even wore purple bandaids around their fingers to mock Kerry’s purple hearts. I was never a huge Kerry supporter (I supported Dean, surprise :-), but I couldn’t believe a guy who hid in the National Guard while Kerry *volunteered* to serve could be held up as the “tougher guy”.

        But regarding Trump’s pictures, I guess I just don’t trust myself to understand the mind of the average Trump voter, and figure out what story would turn them off of Trump. Would they see that picture and say “See, he’s so powerful, he’s controlling the whole world with his bare hands!” I would think the video of Trump curtsying to the Saudi King would be enough to destroy whatever “macho” image Trumpettes hold about their savior, but somehow, they still believe Obama is the weaker one for bowing. So I guess I’m still at a loss as to how to use those pictures. Maybe he’s right, that even if he kills a guy in cold blood in the middle of Manhattan, his supporters will still like him. They’d probably even convince themselves that it’s what Jesus would do.

  6. As I’ve stated before, I see no hope of Trump leaving office prior to 2021, other than resignation or his death.

    At present, Ryan will not allow any significant discussion of impeachment (House indicting) among the Republicans. In the unlikely case that the Democrats were to get control of the House in 2019 and then pass Articles of Impeachment, they would then go to the Senate.

    In the Senate a 2/3 vote would be required to convict. If the Democrats were to completely sweep the Senate elections in 2018, they would only have a 56 seat majority – not nearly enough for removal.

    Some have discussed using the 25th Amendment. If Trump were to fight that, which seems likely, a 2/3 vote of both houses would then be required to remove him from office.

    There remains the possibility that Trump would resign. That is always that possibility. But in the case of Nixon, there was a Democratic majority in both houses. Even then a delegation of Republican leaders from both houses was required. They told him if he did not resign, he would be impeached and that the Senate would vote for removal. Even so Nixon required a day or more to accept the offer. Trump’s narcissism and pride would probably preclude a willingness to resign.

    As Chris states convicting a President of a serious crime is a dicy constitutional question. Even conviction might not be enough to convince him to resign. But conviction or fleeing the country would probably be enough for the Congress to actually exercise one of the two Constitutional options.

    I have very limited confidence in Trump’s health. He is 70 years-old and is overweight. He gets very limited exercise. He is not known for eating properly.
    He is in the most stressful job in the world. He refuses to be candid and transparent regarding his overall health. I personnally believe that a coronary or stroke is a higher probability than is generally being discussed.

    That sums up my thoughts on Trump leaving office prior to January 2021.

    1. Here’s a detail to keep in mind. If all Trump owns in the whole world is the White House, then he will consider himself a failure. Criminal cases carry very heavy implications for the Trump businesses. Once the indictments start, financing – even from money launderers – will immediately dry up. These dumbasses live on debt. Their businesses are rolling ponzi schemes. Once their sources of financing dry up, their lifestyles will begin to be impacted in serious, dangerous ways.

      That’s why I don’t think he’ll stick around. This is not a guy you want standing by your side on the walls of the Alamo. He’ll take the money and run at the first hint of a real threat to their wealth.

      1. You do have a point, I’d not considered. He did save his organization in the 90’s following the bankruptcies by turning to the Russian oligarchs. The legitimate Western banks refused to finance him. Even they would not want to get their money into situations where it could be subject to being seized by the US Judicial system.

        So I’ll have to upgrade the possibility of fleeing, which as I said would certainly trigger one of the two constitutional methods of removal, if Trump did not resign upon fleeing. However, death or incapacity due to a stroke is a high possibility. That was the contingency for which the 25th Amendment was implemented.

      2. @tmerritt15: Also, think about this. If Democrats take the House next year, Adam Schiff becomes the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. What’s one of the very first things you think he’s going to do? He’ll subpoena Trump’s tax returns faster than Billy the Kid could draw his gun; those returns that Trump could lock in Fort Knox and throw away the key if he could.

        Through this whole sordid affair, what is most important to Trump hasn’t changed in the slightest, his brand and his fragile-as-a-snowflake ego. Take serious aim at them both and he’ll crumble. This is a ‘man’ who fears being exposed for what he is more than anything in the world. He would rather live in exile for the rest of his life than face the consequences of that.

    2. Folks, I read the 25th Amendment to the Constitution in detail last night. Even though I’m not a constitutional lawyer, I can conclude that it does not offer an easy solution.

      First of all Section 1 includes three methods of the Vice President becoming President – removal of the President from office, death or resignation. It does not include the President fleeing the Country. Those methods are consistent with the original Constitution, which also includes inability to perform the duties of the office.. The 25th clarifies somewhat the issue of when the President is unable to discharge the duties of the office, but it uses the term ACTING PRESIDENT. In the event of abandonment of office or permanent incapacity a gray area is created.

      Section 2 provides for the President, to nominate a replacement Vice President.

      Section 3 provides for the Vice President to become Acting President, when the President voluntarily notifies Congress that he is not able to discharge the duties of the office. This has worked well during the temporary situations arising due to medical issues.

      Section 4 is the dicy Section. It is the one that provides for the Vice President to become ACTING PRESIDENT when the President does not voluntarily notify Congress of his inability to discharge the “powers and duties of his office”. It lays out a detailed process, ultimately culminating in a two-thirds vote of both House of Congress for the Vice President to become ACTING PRESIDENT. Note the term. It does not describe a process for the Congress to remove the President. That is apparently left to the impeachment process.

      As I read this, the conclusion that I come to is that in the event the President fled the country, such has been discussed above or in Chris’ blog “Imagining an Endgame”, there is no clean way of filling the office of President. The 25th Amendment does offer a relatively rapid means of putting an ACTING PRESIDENT in place while the drawn out process of impeachment and conviction proceeds. The steps described in Section 4 could ideally occur in hours or just 1-2 days in an emergency such as the President fleeing. And that assumes that the Vice President, the cabinet and the Congress is in agreement that something must be done and that the President doesn’t fight the process.

      Even though Trump fleeing the country is possible, I would hope he would resign before so doing. If he did not, that would hopefully galvanize some action on the part of Congress to address the situation. The situation would be messy, but it might prompt some serious debate and resolution of some of the Constitutional problems that the nation has, including the Electoral College and the bias towards rural areas.

      The simplest way for Trump to leave office before 2021 continues to be his resignation or unexpected death. In the event that there was a very clear case for impeachment (definite treason or definite high crimes or misdemeanors such as going into exile) the political obstructions to impeachment could be overcome, but as detailed above that would be constitutionally difficult.

  7. “Can a sitting president be prosecuted for a crime? It is a Constitutionally ambiguous question that would have to be decided by the Supreme Court.”

    Obviously I’m not a lawyer, but I’m thinking that case that allowed Paula Jones to sue Bill Clinton would have to factor big time into under SCOTUS ruling. How fitting it would be if that if that case (the husband of our fav Trump dignity wraith Kelley Anne Conway worked on it, IIRC) is the foundation of Trump getting busted.

    The one thing that worries me is the possibility of another 9/11 style attack, or even a Reichstag fire type of event that the dregs of the GOP would try to use to grip harder onto more power. Several times a week I pass by a chunk of the old World Trade Center on the UH campus and a chunk of the old Berlin Wall on the Rice campus. Each time I am fervently wishing that our country be spared from a disaster that could start to unravel the republic.

      1. I sincerely hope you are right. There’s also the matter of how obviously W squandered all the post 9/11 goodwill. Fool me once, etc. I’m wondering which scenario has the least chaos. I think a case where Ryan and McConnell decide Trump has become too big of a liability, and dupe the Dems into doing the heavy lifting of impeachment is the absolute worst case for chaos. I’m thinking of your narrative of Trump fleeing the country is the best case, because probably only the die hard cultists get outraged. I would hope that some people who wouldn’t buy the Dems kicking him out might still retain enough perspective to recognize that a choice to flee the country does not help with a perception of innocence.

      2. @Flypusher: McConnell’s a moot point in this scenario, but don’t get too worried about Ryan dipping his proverbial toe in the impeachment waters. Democrats retaking the House in ’18 would require ousting a lot of the so-called moderate Republicans, leaving only the conservative hardliners and the Freedom Caucus, whose districts are so pro-Trump that there’s just no way they’d go that route. Their frothing base would never allow it.

      3. If Repubs pass their austerity budget, Paul Ryan may find life becomes much more difficult for his own re-election. This budget is horrible, and if the AHCA is passed – even with removal of the McArthur Amendment – there will be blood in the streets and it won’t be Dems.

      4. >] I think we’re past that. He is too deeply hated, too incompetent, and under too deep a legal cloud for that to work anymore. I’m more worried now about what happens when he leaves office. It will be chaos, and chaos is very dangerous.

        ^ This.

        Yes, we have to watch Trump like a hawk, but this is also the guy who went out a day after his entire press corps went out to defend his decision to fire Comey and said “No, no, no, I was going to fire Comey anyway. All my idea. MINE. MY IDEA. NO ONE ELSE’S.”

        This is not an individual capable of pulling a Machiavellian scheme over anyone. This is a guy who would look at a checkers board and ask where the King is. As David Brooks so aptly noted, his thought process really is a group of six fireflies beeping around in a jar.

        When dealing with a cult, it’s never the leader himself that you have to worry about the most. In the aftermath of WWII, even as Hitler took his own life, it was through the persistence of his ideas that we found the most vile evil. That’s why we took denazification really f’ing seriously. That is why, to this day, Germany outlaws the swastika and punishes anyone (and not just with a slap on the wrist) who tries to promote it.

        For far too many, though a small minority they are, Trump is a symbol of the resistance: resistance against a changing America; resistance against an economy they feel has left them behind; resistance against immigrants that they feel have cheated them and stolen their jobs and their livelihoods.

        Trump is like a god to these people, and to see this man, on whom they’ve placed all their hopes, go down in flames (as we all hope and anticipate he will) ain’t gonna be pretty. Despair will set in for many, and you can never be sure what one who feels he/she is out of options will do. That should worry us all very much.

        Compounding this problem is the fact that we’re still in the growing pains of trying to sort out a new economic order with a politics that has completely stagnated, unable to meet even basic demands. Even with our best efforts, this was always going to be a long process, and time, unfortunately, is the one thing we’re in very short supply of.

        Hold onto your butts, ladies and gentlemen. This is gonna get ugly.

  8. Excellent perspective. I felt from the very beginning the Trump would have a lot of difficulty in Washington and that there would be a significant backlash. It is developing. Still Trump has and will do a lot of damage. Not the least of which is to the health care system. I expect that an AHCA in some form will be passed and signed into law. Some of the states may pick up the pieces. I note that CA and NY are seriously looking at single payer. I hope to start some discussion in Off Topic under ACA – It’ complicated.

    Regarding the legislative backlash, it is being felt even here in Washington State. In the 45th Legislative District, an excellent and strong Democrat is running. This election will be in November to replace a temporary Republican, Dino Rossi (twice gubernatorial candidate and former Senator), who was appointed to replace the previous senator who died late last year. The Democratic candidate, Manka Dhingra, has a lot of support including Senator Patty Murray and favored to win. both of the Republican candidates are relocating to that District from neighboring districts, so there is a little whiff of carpet bagging. If she wins, the Democrats will once again control the Washington State Senate, House of Representatives and most of the state wide offices. The 45th includes much of the technology hub east of Lake Washington, so it is amenable to her. We’ll see how it plays out!

  9. You’ve offered much to think about, regarding mid-terms and beyond. Still, there is opportunity for more harm as long as this ignorant, witless, self-serving man occupies the presidency and the Republican Party uses the time and advantages it has to further erode America’s democratic institutions. This damage can be repaired but many people’s lives will suffer along the way…what a price to pay for “principled” opposition to the Democratic candidate, who was “so much worse than Trump”….

    A great concern, which is eloquently examined in the Rolling Stone release this morning, is what could happen if Trump does “walk away”. They speculate on Pence as his successor, and the alarms ring loudly. Here is a link to this article:

    From Trump’s arrogant refusal to respect Article 5 of NATO, to his coy “I’ll let you know soon about the Paris Accord”, to shoving the newly elected NATO director into a second row position, the man simply reeks with ignorant, self-serving actions. I would love to see him gone but the heir apparent is not someone who can bring America back to a place of rational leadership.

    1. Another website I like to visit has predicted that Pence will go down with Trump along with Ryan (we can only hope). The whole bunch of them are complicit. Some are saying we may have Pres. Orrin Hatch. So much info coming out right now and it’s hard to sift through the leaks. The whole Trump administration stinks to high heaven, treasonous lot that they are.

      Now this is another cringeworthy Trump antic.

      “Leaders of France, Ger, Italy, Japan, Canada & UK walk the streets of Taormina. Trump follows in a golf cart”

      Can he get anymore embarrassing?

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