Is Trump Cracking Up? (Updated)

Trump Maladministration

It’s hard to tell. “Cracked” Trump isn’t that different from “normal” Trump. But it’s a theory going around.

Today’s tweet:

Granted, he never did understand what the NATO thing was all about. I’m sure a lot of people have tried to explain it to him. But Trump doesn’t do learning curves; his brain flatlined some time back.

I learned late last night that the Creature not only skipped World War I commemorations in Paris, as previously noted; he didn’t bother to go to Arlington on Veteran’s Day. Not that I want his odious corruption anywhere near where my brother is buried, but it does seem odd. And he’s changing the story about why he didn’t go to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France on Saturday. Now he’s saying the Secret Service told him not to go.  Did the Secret Service tell him to not go to Arlington also? Or (more likely, I suspect) did he just not want to bother?

One strongly suspects he was meeting with Putin all those times he wasn’t at a scheduled event in Paris. Trump and Putin both turned up late in separate cars at the Arc de Triomphe, like nobody would suspect a thing.

It’s worth going to Twitter to read the comments left to this tweet, btw. Some are brilliant.

For example:

 

Anyway — Jennifer Rubin wrote a couple of days ago that Trump is cracking up politically, if not mentally.

… the press and the country at large should keep in mind that Trump acts out when he is weak, humiliated and cornered. He’s all those things right now:

*His performance in Europe was panned.
*The election results get worse for Republicans with each passing day.
*His great North Korea diplomacy, contrary to the gullible pundits and political spinners, was a bust. (He was snookered.)
*We now have two major Middle East problems — Iran and out-of-control Sunni despots who think (not unreasonably) they can lead him around by the nose.
*He is not winning the trade war, and it may be one of many factors leading to an economic pullback before the 2020 election.
*Mueller plows ahead, with possibly more indictments (e.g., Roger Stone, Donald Trump Jr.). The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (aided by Michael Cohen’s cooperation) has its own case(s) to pursue against Trump and/or his helpmates.
*Obamacare is here to stay. It’s more popular than ever, and red America has fallen in love with Medicaid expansion.
*Trump’s finances are no longer protected from scrutiny, nor are his daughter and son-in-law’s.

In sum, we should continue to tally Trump’s constitutional offenses just as we keep a running count of his lies. However, these offenses are part of a bigger picture of a failing president and a party incapable of breaking with him. Trump is cracking up, as is the GOP.

Nancy LeTourneau writes,

It is worth noticing this series of events over the last week:

1. Trump held a news conference after the midterm elections in which his affect was clearly depressed, until he engaged in a confrontation with CNN’s Jim Acosta.
2. The president traveled to Paris to take part in the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the treaty that ended WWI. He had previously cancelled his plans for a military parade, saying that he would honor the military in Paris instead.
3. On Saturday, Trump skipped the ceremony at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France. The White House suggested that it was because of the weather, but that didn’t stop other world leaders or Trump’s staff from attending the event.
4. The president arrived two hours late to a dinner that evening with world leaders.
5. The White House announced that the president will not attend the ASEAN or APEC summits in mid-November.
6. Monday morning brought this announcement:

It is hard to avoid the idea that there is a pattern to all of this.

LeTourneau goes on to speculate that Trump is coming unglued mentally and emotionally. Not that he was glued all that well to begin with.

Oh, and now that the midterms are over — there are reports Bob Mueller is about to issue some new indictments.

Updated: This is in the Los Angeles Times:

For weeks this fall, an ebullient President Trump traveled relentlessly to hold raise-the-rafters campaign rallies — sometimes three a day — in states where his presence was likely to help Republicans on the ballot.

But his mood apparently has changed as he has taken measure of the electoral backlash that voters delivered Nov. 6. With the certainty that the incoming Democratic House majority will go after his tax returns and investigate his actions, and the likelihood of additional indictments by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, Trump has retreated into a cocoon of bitterness and resentment, according to multiple administration sources. …

… Publicly, Trump has been increasingly absent in recent days — except on Twitter. He has canceled travel plans and dispatched Cabinet officials and aides to events in his place — including sending Vice President Mike Pence to Asia for the annual summits there in November that past presidents nearly always attended.

Jordan’s King Abdullah was in Washington on Tuesday and met with Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, but not the president.

And so on. Sounds like he’s imploding.

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Stan Lee, 1922-2018

Trump Maladministration

Thanks, dude.

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Armistice Plus a Century

Trump Maladministration

I’ve run this photograph before, but you might not remember it. The fellow still in uniform is my grandpa, Corporal Robert John Thomas, just back from the Great War in the summer of 1919. On this day one hundred years ago he was literally in the trenches on the Western Front. That’s my dad, born in October 1918, on his lap, and Grandma Dora, of course. See also The Day the Guns Fell Silent and The War That Never Ended.

Trump continues to be slammed for skipping the observance at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery yesterday.  But he did it again today — the other world leaders walked up the Champs-Elysees together to a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe. Trump and Putin skipped the walk and arrived separately for the ceremony.

Trump has been sullen and grumpy and difficult this whole trip, news reports say, with the exception of the time he spends with Putin. This photo was taken today:

French President Emmanuel Macron has been going out of his way to let Trump know he’s not putting up with his shit.

With U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin sitting just a few feet away listening to the speech via translation earpieces, Macron denounced those who evoke nationalist sentiment to disadvantage others.

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,” Macron said in a 20-minute address delivered from under the Arc de Triomphe to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One.

“By pursuing our own interests first, with no regard to others’, we erase the very thing that a nation holds most precious, that which gives it life and makes it great: its moral values.”

See also Trump’s Bromance With Macron Fizzles Spectacularly.

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Stuff Going On

Trump Maladministration

Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the World War I Armistice. Many world leaders are gathered for the observervance. Guess which pathetic weenie wouldn’t take his fat ass out in the rain for a scheduled wreath laying at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial, and canceled? All the other heads of state went ahead with scheduled wreath-layings.

This just in — Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner on Saturday ordered machine recounts in three statewide elections – U.S. Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner. You can follow the ongoing vote counts in Florida, Georgia and Arizona at the New York Times. See also The Arizona, Florida, and Georgia election recounts, explained.

California is on fire again; nine people, so far, are dead. Trump threatens to withhold fire aid because he thinks the fire is the state’s fault.

Remember the caravan? Republicans, apparently, don’t; they stopped talking about it as soon as the midterms were over. But 5,600 troops are still stuck on the border, living in tents.

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Another Bleeping Florida Recount!

Trump Maladministration

Hold the phone (do people still say that?) — the margins in both the senate and gubernatorial elections in Florida have narrowed into recount territory. The senate race is especially close. Rick Scott is screaming foul.

Standing on the steps of the Governor’s Mansion, Mr. Scott announced on Thursday night that his Senate campaign had sued the Democratic elections supervisors of Broward and Palm Beach Counties. He then asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which he helps oversee as governor, to investigate them.

Scott also said,

“Late Tuesday night our win was projected about 57,000 votes. By Wednesday morning that lead dropped to 38,000 votes. By Wednesday evening, it was around 30,000 votes. This morning, it was around 21,000. Now, it is 15,000” Gov. Rick Scott said.

Yes, because it takes longer for urban areas to count all the votes. The rural precincts are the first to turn their totals in. Duh.

It looks like there will be a recount in the Georgia governor’s race also. Fingers crossed.

There are a number of House seats still undecided. The Democratic majority is not threatened; it might get bigger. Also,

The Arizona Senate race is also up in the air. There, Republican Martha McSally has a lead of some 15,000 votes over Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, but some 600,000 mail-in ballots have yet to be counted, a process that could take a week or more to complete.

Finally, the special election for a Senate seat in Mississippi goes to an automatic runoff between the top two finishers, Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to the position, and Democrat Mike Espy. That will take place on Nov. 27.

In brief, the fat lady ain’t sung yet.

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The Constitutional Crisis Is Upon Us

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A couple of lawyers have written an op ed for the New York Times saying that the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General is unconstitutional. The primary issue is that Whitaker has never been confirmed by the Senate to do anything, and apparently this makes him ineligible to be AG, even temporarily.

See also Marty Lederman at Just Security:

The Department of Justice’s formal view is that the VRA provides the President with an alternative authority, in addition to the AG Succession Act, to designate who shall perform the AG’s functions and duties during a vacancy in the office. Thus, for example, when AG Alberto Gonzales resigned in 2007, President George W. Bush named the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, Peter Keisler, to be the Acting Attorney General, when the AG Succession Order in effect at the time, issued pursuant to the AG Succession Act, would have assigned those functions to the Solicitor General, then Paul Clement.

As far as I know, however, the “appointment” of Whitaker would be the first time in U.S. history that the President has designated as an “acting” Attorney General someone who was not then serving in an office to which he or she was appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and it’d be the first time since 1868—i.e., since Congress enacted a specific AG Succession statute—that the “acting” AG would be anyone other than a sitting Senate-confirmed DOJ officer.

John Bies writing at Lawfare calls this an unresolved constitutional question.

The Appointments Clause of the Constitution provides that the president can nominate, and “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate,” appoint officers of the United States, and further allows that “Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.” Consequently, while the clause permits Congress to authorize the appointment of “inferior officers” by the president alone or by the head of a department, it requires that any “principal officer” be appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

The attorney general—a Cabinet-level official who is the head of a major executive department and reports only to the president—is plainly a principal officer. The chief of staff to the attorney general, on the other hand, is an inferior officer appointed by the head of a department, and not subject to the Senate’s advice and consent, so Whitaker has not been confirmed to his current position by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. While the FVRA allows the president to appoint another Senate-confirmed official to fill a vacancy, here the president has elected to rely on another FVRA provision that allows him to appoint a senior Department of Justice official who was not Senate-confirmed.

There remains an open question of whether it is constitutional to rely on of the FVRA to appoint an official not serving in a Senate-confirmed position to act as a principal officer, such as the attorney general. Some—including Justice Clarence Thomas—have argued that an acting principal officer must be appointed in conformance with the Appointments Clause, i.e., by and with the advice and consent of the Senate: “Appointing principal officers under the FVRA . . . raises grave constitutional concerns because the Appointments Clause forbids the President to appoint principal officers without the advice and consent of the Senate.”

Of course, how the current SCOTUS would rule on that is anybody’s guess. The Notorious RGB is in the hospital with rib fractures, btw. I propose we keep her in bubble wrap for a while.

It’s plain as day that Whitaker was chosen to shut down the Mueller investigation. He’s expressed hostility to it and says he won’t recuse himself from it. There appears to be a difference of opinion among legal experts whether Whitaker would be guilty of obstructing justice if he shut down the investigation.

Elura Nanos writes for Law & Crime,

Let’s face it. Mueller has known from the start that Trump might fire (or order someone else to fire) him.  There’s no way Mueller would be blindsided. Mueller, a veteran prosecutor, has always been a step ahead of Trump; when the state prosecutions ramp up, Trump will have no power to either inhibit them or to shield himself from the consequences. As we’ve discussed before, the Attorneys General of New York and California have already made significant headway in filling in any prosecutorial gaps left by a Mueller firing.

In other news, yesterday CNN’s Jim Acosta was banned from the White House for doing his job, and today Sarah “Mouth of Sauron” Sanders released a doctored video that purported to show Acosta being aggressive with a woman intern who was attempting to take a microphone away from him while he was asking questions of The Creature. No shame. Various people are calling for the White House Press Corp to boycott White House briefings, which are all a pack of lies anyway.

People are so upset about the Attorney General situation that a mass shooting in California barely made headlines. The shooter is a former marine, and this may be one of those rare times in which the perp really did have mental health proplems.  The weapon used was a .45-caliber handgun with an “extended magazine,” which I’m taking to mean it was a semiauto.

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Jeff Sessions Is Out

Trump Maladministration

The real war between Trump and American democracy just began. Discuss.

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Midterm Return Watch

Trump Maladministration

Okay, time to get the road on the show.

It’s too early to say anything about McCaskill-Hawley in Missouri; there’s only about 1 percent of the vote counted.

Illinois will now have a Democratic governor, J.B. Pritzker. He’s not someone I’m really excited about, but the Republican incumbent, Bruce Rauner, was utterly incompetent.

Joe Donnelly lost Indiana. It looks like Manchin will keep his seat in West Virginia.

Damn, Blackburn won Tennessee. I’m sorry about that.

I don’t think there’s going to be a blue wave. It still looks as if the Dems will take the House, but not by as many seats as I’d hoped.

Looks like the critical races won’t be called until the early morning, and I’m not inclined to stay up all night waiting.

Watching the Missouri Senate race is making me crazy. Online sources like the NY Times are saying McCaskill is ahead, but the people on the teevee keep saying Hawley is ahead.

Kobach lost Kansas. Yay!

Heitkamp lost, which means Republicans now have 50 Senate seats.

NBC is calling Texas for Cruz. Damn.

The Missouri secretary of state is not releasing any voting data until all the people standing in line when the polls closed have voted.  And people are still voting. Probably there won’t be any official data until some time between 9:30 and 10 pm eastern time. That’s why numbers are all over the place for McCaskill-Hawley. There are no official numbers and various news outlets are using unofficial numbers from several sources.

NBC is saying that the Dems have taken back the House.

Well, I’m going to call it a night. I think the big races are going to be too close to call for a few hours.

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It’s Time

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Scientists say mysterious ‘Oumuamua’ object could be an alien spacecraft. Harvard researchers raise the possibility that it’s a probe sent by extraterrestrials. I wish we’d have gotten our act together better before we got probed.

Well, I’ve done my bit and voted for Claire McCaskill and a bunch of other down-ticket Dems. Fingers crossed.

There are three medicinal marijuana initiatives on the Missouri ballot. I understand that if they all pass, they cancel each other out. This was by design, no doubt. I took the advice of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and voted yes on the first and no on the other two.

Tonight sometime I’ll be blogging the returns for awhile, so if you want to drop by you are welcome.

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The Terrorists Among Us

Trump Maladministration

Back in 2009 I wrote ablog post about a report issued by the Department of Homeland Security to federal, state and local law enforcement regarding the threat of terrorism from right-wing extremists groups. And I wrote about how “conservatives” threw a fit about the report and called it a political hit job. See “Malkin et al. Admit That “Conservatives” Are Right-Wing Extremists and Potential Terrorists.”

Under pressure from conservatives, in a few months DHS repudiated the report. The chief author of the report no longer works at DHS.

Now the New York Times is running a major story called U.S. Law Enforcement Failed to See the Threat of White Nationalism. Now They Don’t Know How to Stop It. The truth is, they were warned.

This is from the NY Times story:

 According to a recent report by the nonpartisan Stimson Center, between 2002 and 2017, the United States spent $2.8 trillion — 16 percent of the overall federal budget — on counterterrorism. Terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists killed 100 people in the United States during that time. Between 2008 and 2017, domestic extremists killed 387 in the United States, according to the 2018 Anti-Defamation League report.

“We’re actually seeing all the same phenomena of what was happening with groups like ISIS, same tactics, but no one talks about it because it’s far-right extremism,” says the national-security strategist P. W. Singer, a senior fellow at the New America think tank. During the first year of the Trump administration, Singer and several other analysts met with a group of senior administration officials about building a counterterrorism strategy that encompassed a wider range of threats. “They only wanted to talk about Muslim extremism,” he says. But even before the Trump administration, he says, “we willingly turned the other way on white supremacy because there were real political costs to talking about white supremacy.”

Well, yeah.

It’s not just white nationalists. One of the women-hating he-man club members shot up a yoga studio and killed two women this weekend. There is a well documented connection between what appear to be random mass shootings and a history of domestic violence by men against women. And abortion clinic violence continues to be swept under the rug.

What’s to be done? First, law-enforcement experts say that right-wing extremists should be treated just like ISIS.

From Axios:

Far-right extremists have killed more people since 9/11 than any other category of domestic terrorism.

* 71% of extremist-related deaths between 2008 and 2017 were committed by members of a far-right movement, while Islamic extremists were responsible for 26%, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

* Between 2002 and 2017, the U.S. spent $2.8 trillion on counterterrorism. In that time frame, terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists killed 100 people in the U.S.

* Between 2008 and 2017, meanwhile, domestic extremists killed 387 people.

David Atkins:

Law enforcement has been ill-equipped to identify and deal with the threat: in part because white male anger in defense of traditional power structures is considered normative in America, in part because law enforcement has long been infiltrated by white supremacists who defend their own, and in part because of a considered and explicit effort by the conservative political movement to prevent federal law enforcement for doing so–including by scuttling a landmark government report on the problem. Indeed, the Trump administration is shutting down an Obama-era program to counter threats of domestic terrorism even as it wields xenophobia to focus on the far less dangerous threat of attacks by foreign agents.

Here’s the hard part:

But all of this raises a terrifying question: if this horrific wave of right-wing terror is rising when these deplorable men are at the height of their political power, what happens when even that power is wrested from their control? What happens when several more years of natural demographic changes replace conservative boomers with progressive millennials and rural whites with urban and suburban diverse communities? When Democrats regain the White House, Congress and many state governments in a census year, eliminating many of the “structural advantages” conservatives have put in place to gerrymander districts and implement restrictive voting laws?

What happens when these hateful men discover that even politically, the country is finally irrevocably lost to them? What kind of asymmetric violence and terrorist insurgencies will we see from them when they don’t just feel disempowered despite all their power and privilege, but actually do find themselves truly out of power?

And the next question is, what will we do about it? As a people and as a nation? How far are we willing to go? What will we be willing to do?

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