Donald Trump is an ass, Houston edition: Daily Bullshit, August 28-31, 2017

Updates

  1. August 28, 9:58 pm:
    • We will undoubtedly see a number of calls for action potentially leading to Donald Trump’s impeachment. This[1] is the first one I’m inclined to take seriously. (Golden Showers)
  2. August 28, 10:25 pm:
    • Cabinet members and White House aides are beginning to distance themselves from Donald Trump.[2] The twenty-fifth amendment requires a vote of the cabinet to find Trump unfit to serve.[3] (Charlottesville)
  3. August 29, 12:30 pm:
    • Jennifer Rubin is scathing on Donald Trump’s trip to Texas before Harvey is even done.[4] (Houston)
    • Jelani Cobb complains that Antifa violence vindicates Donald Trump who alleged in the wake of Charlottesville that there was violence on both sides.[5]
  4. August 30, 3:49 am:
    • Antifa are idiots and assholes. Their tactics eviscerate their claim to be anarchists[6] and they’re helping rationalize Donald Trump’s false equivalence between paleoconservatives and counter-protesters.[7] (Charlottesville)
    • In his speeches on his trip to Texas even before Harvey had left the state, Donald Trump has barely mentioned victims, thrilling instead at the sizes of his audiences.[8] Did I mention that Trump is an ass? (Houston)
  5. August 30, 9:56 pm:
    • Here’s the Politico new story on Donald Trump’s purpose for his trip to Texas.[9] (Houston)
    • Donald Trump is not the only one displaying severe psychological defects impairing his ability to serve. Here’s Dianne Feinstein.[10]
  6. August 31, 11:47 am:
    • Politico reports on the public disagreements between Donald Trump and his advisors.[11] (North Korea, yes, really)
  7. August 31, 12:48 pm:
    • More ridicule for Donald Trump on his trip to Texas. (Houston)
  8. August 31, 5:31 pm:
    • A now bought-and-paid-for Bernie Sanders is rebuffing efforts to convince him to lead a new party.[12] (Democrats)
    • In response to Donald Trump’s claims to have witnessed devastation first-hand, Aaron Blake is reduced to explaining the difference between first-hand and second-hand information.[13] (Houston)

Houston

Extreme weather events tend to be outside my bailiwick, so my initial intention is not to archive stories on this disaster. But Harvey is huge and well, and Donald Trump is managing to make an ass of himself here too. And I have relatives in the Hill Country of northeast Texas who were entirely too close (but seem to have been unaffected).


This being Twitter, others have already responded and more poignantly than I ever could, long before I even woke up to find out what was going on:

And of course, Twitter has follow-up:

Then here’s the Politico report:

It was a presidential trip to a deluged state where the president didn’t meet a single storm victim, see an inch of rain or get near a flooded street.

But the daylong visit, during which President Donald Trump spent far more time in the air than on the ground, gave the optics-obsessed president some of the visuals he wanted, as he checked in on the government apparatus working on relief efforts and was buoyed by a roaring crowd of locals.

And it showed that the president, who often obsesses about crowd size and fame while speaking in hyperbolic superlatives, would not drop those traits even amid hurricane cleanup. He praised his Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, Brock Long, for becoming “famous” during his frequent TV appearances, talked repeatedly about the historic nature of the storm and marveled at adoring Texas residents who greeted him.

“What a crowd, what a turnout,” Trump said, wearing khakis and a storm jacket — an unusual look for him — while waving a Texas state flag before about 1,000 people gathered across a rural Texas highway.[14]

Are you fucking kidding me? This is how the president of the United States gets covered in the wake of a disaster? I guess it is when that president is Trump. But we are now well into what is, for me, entirely uncharted territory. I’ve never in my life seen a president, not even Richard Nixon, held in such disdain in the mainstream media. He can cry “fake news” all he likes but we no longer have the question of whether his presidency is over, but rather when he lost all credibility and when—and how—he departs (more on this under North Korea).

Jennifer Rubin, “Mr. President, the flood victims should come first, not your photo op,” Washington Post, August 29, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/08/29/mr-president-the-flood-victims-should-come-first-not-your-photo-op/

Julia Conley, “No Mention of the Victims, But ‘What a Turnout!’ Trump Declares in Texas,” Common Dreams, August 29, 2017, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/08/29/no-mention-victims-what-turnout-trump-declares-texas

Josh Dawsey, “Trump relishes role as chief executive of Harvey response,” Politico, August 29, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/29/trump-texas-hurricane-harvey-242148

Aaron Blake, “Trump claimed he witnessed Harvey’s devastation ‘first hand.’ The White House basically admits he didn’t,” Washington Post, August 31, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/08/31/trump-claimed-he-witnessed-harveys-devastation-first-hand-the-white-house-basically-admits-he-didnt/


Joe Arpaio

Even the Moonie paper notes, even if only to dismiss them, “accusations that the president hid the Arpaio pardon behind Hurricane Harvey, which was preparing to make landfall in Texas as the pardon was announced.”[15]

It’s worth commenting on Paul Ryan’s remarks. First, Paul Ryan exhibits characteristics of an oxymoronic combination of capitalist libertarianism and social or traditionalist conservatism. I despise capitalist libertarian economics, but folks at the Cato Institute and other capitalist libertarians are often excellent in their analysis of issues involving the Bill of Rights, which authoritarian populist Joe Arpaio enthusiastically shredded while demonstrating the fuzziness of the boundary between authoritarian populism and paleoconservatism on unauthorized migration.

But the other point is that nearly all elected officials and other elites, including Ryan and even Donald Trump, become functionalist to some degree: Gaining power vests their interest in the status quo. So the other thing to observe in the stories under Charlottesville is the degree to which other functionalist conservatives—including the Secretary of State and Defense Secretary[16]—are criticizing Trump, even if not very loudly in Ryan’s case[17] and somewhat obliquely in Mattis’ case.[18] It’s a pretty good bet that others are thinking what Ryan, Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, Gary Cohn, John McCain, and Jeff Flake are saying.

To understand this, understand the at least subconscious relationship between elites and police: Police exist in a framework to protect what wealthy folks most have to lose, property; they are very well armed and any armed insurrection against the status quo would need to at least neutralize the police; and it is therefore essential that police be loyal to the death. Yes, Arpaio violated the Constitution. But worse than that, in doing so, he broke the trust that functionalists require from police.

Dave Boyer and David Sherfinski, “Trump’s pardon of Arpaio sends strong messages to immigrant advocates, Mueller team, loyalists,” Washington Times, August 27, 2017, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/aug/27/joe-arpaios-pardon-a-donald-trump-message/

Lisa Mascaro, “Speaker Ryan ‘does not agree’ with Trump’s pardon of Arpaio,” Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-speaker-ryan-does-not-agree-with-1503856893-htmlstory.html


Charlottesville

Laura King, “Tillerson appears to distance himself from Trump on racism and ‘values,'” Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-tillerson-appears-to-distance-self-from-1503847245-htmlstory.html

Amber Phillips, “Are some of Trump’s key Cabinet members thinking about abandoning him?” Washington Post, August 28, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/08/28/are-some-of-trumps-key-cabinet-members-thinking-about-abandoning-him/

Jelani Cobb, “The Antifa Protests Are Helping Donald Trump,” New Yorker, August 29, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-antifa-protests-are-helping-donald-trump

Paige St. John and James Queally, “‘Antifa’ violence in Berkeley spurs soul-searching within leftist activist community,” Los Angeles Times, August 29, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-far-left-violence-20170829-story.html


Golden Showers

Jane Chong and Benjamin Wittes, “Congress Needs to Open a Formal Impeachment Inquiry,” Foreign Policy, August 28, 2017, http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/08/28/congress-needs-to-open-a-formal-impeachment-inquiry/


Dianne Feinstein

Jessica Chasmar, “Dianne Feinstein on Trump: ‘He can be a good president,’” Washington Times, August 30, 2017, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/aug/30/dianne-feinstein-calls-for-patience-on-donald-trum/


North Korea

Leon Panetta has an important point, that those of us looking at White House tensions as possibly auguring a twenty-fifth amendment removal of Donald Trump, when he says of the public disagreements between Trump and his advisors that he “think[s] the problem is that they (advisers) are now dealing with a president who tweets his thoughts to the country.”[19]

Presidents often disagree with senior advisers over policies or other matters but the differences are usually confined to internal deliberations and become public only through leaks or much later in memoirs, historians and former government officials said.

“I haven’t seen a modern president with a pattern of this many high officials saying things like that,” said Michael Beschloss, a presidential historian.[20]

At least in the Politico rendering, it isn’t clear that Beschloss is taking Trump’s use of Twitter into account, that we might indeed be seeing publicly what is normally private, that as Sarah Sanders said on Air Force One, she doesn’t “think anyone has tried to distance themselves. I think that at moments maybe you have people that disagree. I think that’s a healthy thing for you to be able to have productive conversation.”[21]

So the questions that arise here are, first, what happens when policy deliberations are aired publicly? And second, are these actually just ‘deliberations’ or is there another story playing out, as when James Mattis “appeared to delay implementation of Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from enlisting in the military” or when Gary Cohn reportedly considered resigning over Trump’s Charlottesville comments?[22]

Because the other part of this is what I write above under Joe Arpaio and in a recent blog entry,[23] that this is, for functionalist conservatives and neoconservatives, a substantially discredited president. Which seems to point to two possible directions: One, and probably still most likely at least in the short term, is to essentially to do what Robert Reich recently suggested, to render Trump irrelevant. Reich notes that “Trump no longer has a working majority in the Senate because several Senate Republicans have decided the hell with him.” Reich believes that “although Trump will still hold the title of President, he’s on the way to being effectively removed from the presidency. Neutered. Defanged.”[24] But the other, which I think is more plausible in the medium to longer term, is that bypassing a president proves unworkable or unacceptable and the cabinet votes to remove him via the twenty-fifth amendment. As Reich notes, “We’re not out of danger. Trump will continue to rant and fume. He’ll insult. He’ll stoke racial tensions. He could still start a nuclear war.”[25] That last one sure as fuck has my attention.

Jonathan Landay and Jeff Mason, “Top advisers in more displays of disagreement with Trump,” Politico, August 30, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-advisers-idUSKCN1BB075


Democrats

Seth McLaughlin, “Draft Bernie activists implore Vermont Sen. Sanders to consider leading new party,” Washington Times, August 31, 2017, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/aug/30/bernie-sanders-asked-grass-roots-activists-lead-ne/

  1. [1]Jane Chong and Benjamin Wittes, “Congress Needs to Open a Formal Impeachment Inquiry,” Foreign Policy, August 28, 2017, http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/08/28/congress-needs-to-open-a-formal-impeachment-inquiry/
  2. [2]Amber Phillips, “Are some of Trump’s key Cabinet members thinking about abandoning him?” Washington Post, August 28, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/08/28/are-some-of-trumps-key-cabinet-members-thinking-about-abandoning-him/
  3. [3]Andrew Prokop, “The 25th Amendment, explained: how a president can be declared unfit to serve,” Vox, May 17, 2017, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/2/9/14488980/25th-amendment-trump-pence
  4. [4]Jennifer Rubin, “Mr. President, the flood victims should come first, not your photo op,” Washington Post, August 29, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/08/29/mr-president-the-flood-victims-should-come-first-not-your-photo-op/
  5. [5]Jelani Cobb, “The Antifa Protests Are Helping Donald Trump,” New Yorker, August 29, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-antifa-protests-are-helping-donald-trump
  6. [6]David Benfell, “On violence,” Not Housebroken, April 29, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/04/29/on-violence/
  7. [7]Jelani Cobb, “The Antifa Protests Are Helping Donald Trump,” New Yorker, August 29, 2017, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-antifa-protests-are-helping-donald-trump; Paige St. John and James Queally, “‘Antifa’ violence in Berkeley spurs soul-searching within leftist activist community,” Los Angeles Times, August 29, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-far-left-violence-20170829-story.html
  8. [8]Julia Conley, “No Mention of the Victims, But ‘What a Turnout!’ Trump Declares in Texas,” Common Dreams, August 29, 2017, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/08/29/no-mention-victims-what-turnout-trump-declares-texas
  9. [9]Josh Dawsey, “Trump relishes role as chief executive of Harvey response,” Politico, August 29, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/29/trump-texas-hurricane-harvey-242148
  10. [10]Jessica Chasmar, “Dianne Feinstein on Trump: ‘He can be a good president,’” Washington Times, August 30, 2017, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/aug/30/dianne-feinstein-calls-for-patience-on-donald-trum/
  11. [11]Jonathan Landay and Jeff Mason, “Top advisers in more displays of disagreement with Trump,” Politico, August 30, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-advisers-idUSKCN1BB075
  12. [12]Seth McLaughlin, “Draft Bernie activists implore Vermont Sen. Sanders to consider leading new party,” Washington Times, August 31, 2017, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/aug/30/bernie-sanders-asked-grass-roots-activists-lead-ne/
  13. [13]Aaron Blake, “Trump claimed he witnessed Harvey’s devastation ‘first hand.’ The White House basically admits he didn’t,” Washington Post, August 31, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/08/31/trump-claimed-he-witnessed-harveys-devastation-first-hand-the-white-house-basically-admits-he-didnt/
  14. [14]Josh Dawsey, “Trump relishes role as chief executive of Harvey response,” Politico, August 29, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/29/trump-texas-hurricane-harvey-242148
  15. [15]Dave Boyer and David Sherfinski, “Trump’s pardon of Arpaio sends strong messages to immigrant advocates, Mueller team, loyalists,” Washington Times, August 27, 2017, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/aug/27/joe-arpaios-pardon-a-donald-trump-message/
  16. [16]Laura King, “Tillerson appears to distance himself from Trump on racism and ‘values,'” Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-tillerson-appears-to-distance-self-from-1503847245-htmlstory.html; Amber Phillips, “Are some of Trump’s key Cabinet members thinking about abandoning him?” Washington Post, August 28, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/08/28/are-some-of-trumps-key-cabinet-members-thinking-about-abandoning-him/
  17. [17]Lisa Mascaro, “Speaker Ryan ‘does not agree’ with Trump’s pardon of Arpaio,” Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-speaker-ryan-does-not-agree-with-1503856893-htmlstory.html
  18. [18]Amber Phillips, “Are some of Trump’s key Cabinet members thinking about abandoning him?” Washington Post, August 28, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/08/28/are-some-of-trumps-key-cabinet-members-thinking-about-abandoning-him/
  19. [19]Leon Panetta, quoted in Jonathan Landay and Jeff Mason, “Top advisers in more displays of disagreement with Trump,” Politico, August 30, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-advisers-idUSKCN1BB075
  20. [20]Jonathan Landay and Jeff Mason, “Top advisers in more displays of disagreement with Trump,” Politico, August 30, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-advisers-idUSKCN1BB075
  21. [21]Sarah Sanders, quoted in Jonathan Landay and Jeff Mason, “Top advisers in more displays of disagreement with Trump,” Politico, August 30, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-advisers-idUSKCN1BB075
  22. [22]Jonathan Landay and Jeff Mason, “Top advisers in more displays of disagreement with Trump,” Politico, August 30, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-advisers-idUSKCN1BB075
  23. [23]David Benfell, “Forecasting Donald Trump’s demise,” Not Housebroken, August 19, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/08/19/forecasting-donald-trumps-demise/
  24. [24]Robert Reich, “How to Remove Trump,” August 20, 2017, http://robertreich.org/post/164425401240
  25. [25]Robert Reich, “How to Remove Trump,” August 20, 2017, http://robertreich.org/post/164425401240

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.