Your Move, Republicans

The Republicans got big irresponsible tax cuts, plus Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. But how long are they going to stand aside and watch Trump flounder and bluster out of their control?

The latest on the coming shutdown: Several hours ago the House dutifully passed a bill giving Trump his $5 billion on border wall funding. It is now with the Senate. Under current Senate rules it needs 60 votes to pass, which it will not get. Trump is calling on Mitch McConnell to kill the filibuster and pass the thing with a simple majority. So far, it doesn’t appear Mitch is willing to do that, assuming he could get the 50 votes. Trump is promising a “very long” shutdown. This would be very unpopular with the public and a disaster for the Republicans.

The stock market went down again today.

Yesterday Putin released this statement:

“With regards to the victory over ISIL, on the whole I agree with the president of the United States.”

The Russian leader expressed skepticism, however, that the United States would follow through on Mr. Trump’s pronouncement, noting that the government had similarly pledged to pull out of Afghanistan by 2014 but still stations forces there.

“We don’t see any signs yet of the withdrawal of U.S. troops,” he said. “How long has the United States been in Afghanistan? Seventeen years? And almost every year they say they’re pulling out their troops.”

Right on cue, today Trump announced we were withdrawing half our troops from Afghanistan. Martin Longman pointed out that candidate Trump was calling for withdrawing from Syria at the same time he was trying to close the Trump Tower Moscow deal. Can he be more obvious? However, I also heard the theory that perhaps Trump thinks he can use the money saved by reducing deployments to build the wall.

The Associated Press is reporting that Trump decided to withdraw troops in a phone call with Turkish President Erdogan.

The Dec. 14 call came a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu agreed to have the two presidents discuss Erdogan’s threats to launch a military operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish rebels in northeast Syria, where American forces are based. The NSC then set up the call.

Pompeo, Mattis and other members of the national security team prepared a list of talking points for Trump to tell Erdogan to back off, the officials said.

But the officials said Trump, who had previously accepted such advice and convinced the Turkish leader not to attack the Kurds and put U.S. troops at risk, ignored the script. Instead, the president sided with Erdogan.

Right now, Erdogan is probably kicking himself he didn’t ask if he could invade Greece.

What I think: As much as I believed the original deployments to Afghanistan and Syria were a bad idea, I also think that withdrawals need to be negotiated carefully and with the interests of many alliances in mind. Trump’s capricious acts are, I fear, doing long-term damage also.

Frank Rich:

The beginning of the end of the Trump presidency came and went a long time ago. I have never wavered from my oft-stated convictions that (a) Trump will not finish out his term, and (b), the end will be triggered by a presidential meltdown that forces the Vichy Republicans in Washington to mount an insurrection — if only to save their own asses, not the country. This week was a big step toward that endgame, and surely one of the most remarkable weeks in American history.

We have a president of the United States who is moving to shut down the government at the same moment that he is inviting America’s adversaries to breach its defenses. The withdrawals in Syria and Afghanistan, combined with the exit of the last top administration official who aspired to serve the national interest rather than Trump’s, invites hostile moves against the United States from ISIS, Russia, China, North Korea, and the Taliban. This has even grabbed the cynical Mitch McConnell’s attention: He has declared himself “distressed” by Mattis’s resignation, a major step in rhetorical escalation in a party where Susan Collins’s pathetic periodic expressions of “concern” are what pass for criticism of an outlaw president. Marco Rubio’s words were stronger, a move to protect his viability for another presidential run, but more outrage from more GOP leaders will follow. What will move them is not necessarily Trump’s hara-kiri isolationist agenda but the damage his behavior both abroad and at home is inflicting on the financial markets. The sheer uncertainty of a chaos presidency is pushing the Dow to its worst December since the Great Depression. McConnell and his humiliated departing peer Paul Ryan have tolerated Trump’s racism, misogyny, and nativism, his wreckage of American alliances, his kleptocracy, and his allegiance to Vladimir Putin. They have tolerated as well his con job on the coal miners, steelworkers, and automobile-industry workers of his base. But they’ll be damned if they will stand for a president who threatens the bottom line of the GOP donor class.

Going forward, the only power that could save Trump from the abyss are Senate Republicans, and he’s done a fine job pissing them off lately. See What should worry Trump most: Republican allies are turning on him and Trump Is Spoiling his Own Jury Pool in the Senate. And see also this:

President Trump is presently working on almost all fronts to justify his removal. For Republican senators, nothing is more damning that his foreign policy decision-making. It’s highly doubtful that this will factor into any actual articles of impeachment, but his impulsiveness and cluelessness and doubtful loyalty are going to at least privately give the senators comfort that they’re justified in pulling the plug.

But hold on — today it was announced Ruth Bader Ginsburg had cancerous growths removed from her lung. She is expected to recover, but damn, not another Trump Supreme Court pick. Please.

25 thoughts on “Your Move, Republicans

  1. I am with you about Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  I hope that she will last as long as she is needed to save our country.  I send her all my love and with great hopes that she will remain with us long enough for many other Americans to understand that she is a gem.  Trump isn't good enough to shine her shoes.

  2. Even though Ruth Bader Ginsberg is tough, she can use all the prayers and energy we can send her way.  I'm with you Maha and Bonnie.

  3. I love Frank Rich. I would follow what he said with Robert Reich’s Trump’s End:

    This morning I phoned my friend, the former Republican member of Congress.

    ME: So, what are you hearing?

    HE: Trump is in deep sh*t.

    ME: Tell me more.

    HE: When it looked like he was backing down on the wall, Rush and the crazies on Fox went ballistic. So he has to do the shutdown to keep the base happy. They’re his insurance policy. They stand between him and impeachment.

    ME: Impeachment? No chance. Senate Republicans would never go along.

    HE (laughing): Don’t be so sure. Corporate and Wall Street are up in arms. Trade war was bad enough. Now, you’ve got Mattis resigning in protest. Trump pulling out of Syria, giving Putin a huge win. This dumbass shutdown. The stock market in free-fall. The economy heading for recession.

    ME: But the base loves him.

    HE: Yeah, but the base doesn’t pay the bills.

    ME: You mean …

    HE: Follow the money, friend.

    ME: The GOP’s backers have had enough?

    HE: They wanted Pence all along.

    ME: So …

    HE: So they’ll wait until Mueller’s report, which will skewer Trump. Pelosi will wait, too. Then after the Mueller bombshell, she’ll get 20, 30, maybe even 40 Republicans to join in an impeachment resolution….

  4. Trump threatening a very long shut down are probably reminiscent of the words he shouted at his mother when she was negotiating his potty training. No money no poop!

  5. The shutdown isn't the thing to watch. The Dow isn't the thing to watch. Trump's poll numbers are the thing to watch. The Senate will abandon Trump when his poll numbers drop enough. He's been on a slide fot the last few weeks. Trump pulled the shutdown stunt to please Limabaugh and Hannity. When Trump's base abandons him, it's game over. He knows it.

    When the poll numbers say the GOP voters have quit on Trump, the GOP will let the House Dems rip Trump to bits. Not that they can stop it, but they won't help Trump when the base abandons him. I think it's happening.

  6. I am not so sure that his base will ever abandon him. After all, there were Germans who lived through the  bombing of Dresden and Hamburg who endured the Allied occupation of their country and still thought that Hitler had the right idea. If Trump blames the Deep State for his woes, his base will believe him. If he blames Obama, so will they. 

    It is possible that something will happen that will cause Fox News to abandon him. If Sean Hannity or Tucker Carlson gave up on him, that could thereby have an effect on his base. This is more likely if their stock portfolios take a hit. I have been checking in periodically on Mollie Hemingway's Twitter feed, and she is still all in on Trump. Maybe she is suitable to serve as an early indicator that the end is near. 

  7. Well, let me be the first to usher in the Trump shutdown.. Happy shutdown! For some reason the lyrics from a WWII song is playing in my head..  Kiss me once and kiss me twice and kiss me once's been a long long time. It must be the long long time part of the lyrics in conjunction with the Trump shutdown that brings that tune to mind.

  8. Even in the most recent polls – after a December to disremember – tRUMP still gets 80+ approval from Republicans.

    That them thar, is his base.

    Until that number shrinks significantly, he ain't goin' nowhere!

    He still polls that high with conservatives, because he does his prime job well:

    He really pisses-off us Libtards!

    And that's all that "modern" conservatism stands for anymore.

  9. Well, I'm not exactly on the cutting edge in political analysis, but I'm kinda thinking that Trump has set himself up for having to eat a big ole shit sandwich smothered in stupidity. I'm sure he'll come up with some lame excuse to make it more palatable. But none the less, he prepared his own meal. Yum, yum, eat'em up, Trump.

  10. Gulag: "He really pisses-off us Libtards! And that's all that "modern" conservatism stands for anymore."

    Gulag you are 100% spot on. That's is why they love Trump and he knows it. After all what is so conservative about running up massive debt and starting needless trade wars? I'm not so sure Schumer won't cave in on this shutdown, he caved on the last one, we'll see?

  11. uncledad,

    We liberals are now the real conservatives.

    We're trying to "conserve" representative democracy in its unique American form.  And we're trying to extend and expand that franchise by being more accessable and open – TO ALL!

    Today's "conservatives" have morphed into Authoritarians/Fascists, and all that that means: bigotry, misogyny, religious intolerance (except for the approved ones), homophobia, etc…

    We liberals really need to hammer those points publicly until they stick!

  12. Swami:  You really have a way of cutting through the garbage and "proper talk"  and saying it like it is and also making me laugh.  I appreciate you.  I wonder how long it's been since someone has kissed Trump just because they loved him.   Sad.

  13. Gundgulag:" Today's "conservatives" have morphed into Authoritarians/Fascists, and all that that means: bigotry, misogyny, religious intolerance (except for the approved ones), homophobia, etc"

    I know I say this all the time but I can't think of a time time when they were not peddling "bigotry, misogyny, religious intolerance (except for the approved ones), homophobia, etc… ". To me conservative means fiscal responsibility, conserving the environment, conserving natural resources, the republicans do the exact opposite and they always have. They only talk about deficits when the democrats are in charge, they cut regulations so polluters can pollute without culpability, they encourage the burning of fossil fuels and dissuade any progress in clean energy, they are 100% not conservative. It's all bumper sticker bullsh#t slogans, it is now and always has been.

  14. uncledad,

    I can't argue.

    I agree with you!

    Perhaps I should have written 'that conservatives have delved far deeper into Authoritarianism/Fascism… '

  15. You mentioned the Trump Tower deal. I've been wondering about that. You're not saying that he's STILL trying to pull that off are you?

    Because I don't think even he is stupid enough to have carried on with up to now. But then — since that particular cat is already out of the bag — it makes me think the Russians have got something a lot worse on him. And at the very least, it is that he owes them lots and lots of money. And that is not going away.

    And Gulag, you are absolutely right that we are the real conservatives. I have been saying that for a long time.


    • “You’re not saying that he’s STILL trying to pull that off are you?” No, I didn’t come anywhere close to saying that. I said that someone else had pointed out the deal was still being negotiated while Trump was campaigning in 2015 and 2016 and calling for a pullout from Syria. It’s been established that the deal was still on the table as recently as June 2016.

  16. Swami – you nailed it in yur description of the meal Trump has prepared for himself. Like it or not, he's gonna eat it.

    Regarding GULAG's description, "Today's "conservatives" have morphed into Authoritarians/Fascists, and all that that means: …" I think it's right to recognize three categories of "conservatives". There are conservative organizers in the party and the media who don't care about the issues except as wedges to separate us and opportunities to amplify fear and hate. Outside of the manipulators, there are true racists and fascists among the ranks of voters. There ARE decent people with a 'conservative' attitude about what government can and can not do according to the Constitution. They aren't all haters and it's a mistake to burn the bridges they could cross away from the organizers of hate and the true devotes of bigotry.

  17. Gulag, I was not opposing your viewpoint, only enhancing it! Anyway we are really in deep sh#t when the POTUS allows these two windbags (Moore and Laffer) in the WH to advise him on economic policy? All I can say is we are lucky the democrats will at least have a say for the next two years or these [email protected] would drive the economy right off a cliff. Happy Holidays maha and mahabloggers!

  18. The Associated Press is reporting that Trump decided to withdraw troops in a phone call with Turkish President Erdogan.

    Well, it's not as if it came as a surprise. He campaigned on it. It's a popular move with everybody except the neoconservatives and the MIC. I'm pretty sure it's very popular with the troops. Politico and The Hill have been reporting since Inauguration Day that he kept bringing it up and the neocons he stuffed the NSC with kept talking him out of it. So during a phone conversation with Erdogan he suddenly decided he was fed up with being blocked. It's not that he did not consult with the appropriate cabinet members, and the NSC staff — they're terrified because he's not under (their) control. Can you tell me what our 4-5,000 troops, most of whom are supposed to be either artillerymen or logistics support, are going to do to create a "sustainable" solution? The same thing they are doing in Afghanistan? I'm with you on his stupid tariffs and his counter-productive trade war(s), but the Democrats really, really need to start thinking what a good foreign policy that advances American interests would look like and start fighting for it.


  19. Proctologist – The argument is that we've moved from a bad policy to a worse policy. It's alarming that the withdrawl is exactly what Putin wants and will allow Turkey, run by a dictator, to massacre the only allies we have in Syria. The Kurds fought and died (instead of Americans) and we owe them a transistion. Maybe that transition would be some kind of support so they can stay or negotiating a sanctuary for them in an adjoining country. 

  20. Frank Rich: "We have a president of the United States who is moving to shut down the government at the same moment that he is inviting America’s adversaries to breach its defenses."

    Trump has not shown the capability for strategical thinking, but his gut instincts may allow him to stumble into the strategy of inciting warlike acts by foreign adversaries in order to invoke the emergency powers granted to President Truman and other Presidents over the years, which have not been repealed by Congress. IIUC, Trump could unilaterally declare martial law without breaking current laws. Depending upon the perceived external threats, he might get away with it.

  21. If the Democrats stick to their guns and Congress passes the continuing resolution (CR) that both houses passed before Trump threw a tantrum, and do not back down on funding the symbolic wall, then the shutdown could be a foreshadowing of impeachment. How come?

    First, extreme ideologues aside, no one in Congress or the Senate really wants a government shutdown, unless they can successfully blame their opponents for it. Government shutdowns are political theater. Trump took ownership of this shutdown. All the Democrats have to do is call Trump's bluff. 

    Second, if Trump vetoes or threatens to veto a CR, the question becomes one of overriding an actual or possible veto. To override the veto requires a â…” vote in each house, the same â…” vote in the Senate that is required to convict Trump in an impeachment trial. Remember, the Trump shutdown is a bluff. The nation will not stand for an indefinite government shutdown. The Congress and Senate have already passed a CR, so Trump is the only one standing in the way, the only one who has to take the blame for the shutdown. He will lose if the Democrats do not back down. And if Trump digs in his heels, which he is wont to do, the closer he gets to a veto override in the Senate, and the closer he gets to impeachment and removal from office.

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