Sunday, March 18, 2018

Spinning Downward

Emperor Turhan: How will this end?
Vorlon Kosh: In fire...

Update: Thank you again Batocchio for linking me on Mike's Blog Round Up at! While you're here PLEASE check out the rest of my blog.

So as trump fires more people from his own Cabinet and from the FBI, it's getting clearer that this is an administration not finding its order but spreading its own chaos.

To be fair to this latest article from The Atlantic "What Is a Constitutional Crisis?" isn't the first warning flag raised about the subject. But let's see what Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes have to say about it:

Here is something that, even on its own, is astonishing: The president of the United States demanded the firing of the former FBI deputy director, a career civil servant, after tormenting him both publicly and privately—and it worked.
The American public still doesn’t know in any detail what Andrew McCabe, who was dismissed late Friday night, is supposed to have done. But citizens can see exactly what Donald Trump did to McCabe. And the president’s actions are corroding the independence that a healthy constitutional democracy needs in its law enforcement and intelligence apparatus.
McCabe’s firing is part of a pattern. It follows the summary removal of the previous FBI director and comes amid Trump’s repeated threats to fire the attorney general, the deputy attorney, and the special counsel who is investigating him and his associates. McCabe’s ouster unfolded against a chaotic political backdrop which includes Trump’s repeated calls for investigations of his political opponents, demands of loyalty from senior law enforcement officials, and declarations that the job of those officials is to protect him from investigation.
All of which has led many observers to wonder: Are we in the midst of a constitutional crisis? And if so, would we even know?

Apparently Jurecic and Wittes haven't gotten that memo: We've been in crisis mode ever since before November 9 2016, probably about DEFCON 2 levels when McConnell refused to let Obama go public with the early findings by SEPTEMBER 2016 that trump was in bed (literally) with Putin and the Russian mob.

What trump is attempting to do now is squash all those revelations and end all investigations into his Russian ties so he can keep lying about how he's the greatest winner of all time (dare not ruin his bullshit with the facts that he cheated with help from a corrupt foreign power).

I can argue when our nation is in a Constitution Crisis when certain things are happening - The lead-up to Civil War in the 1850s for example, or the turmoil of the 1960s (Civil Rights protests, Vietnam, shifts in demographic power) leading into Nixon/Watergate - based on these clues:

1. There is a branch of federal government under the control of a corrupt regime (trump, following in the footsteps of previous corrupt regimes like Nixon's, Harding's, Grant's, etc.).
2. There is a branch of federal government that refuses to respond to their Constitutional duties to oversee other branches for ethical failings (Republican-controlled Congress refusing to hold trump accountable for ANYTHING not just his Russian ties but his flagrant violations of the Emoluments Clause).
3. There is a section of the population that becomes intently partisan to the point that they cannot accept facts or moderation of their stances (damn you, Breitbart/Fox Not-News).
4. Things are batshit crazy (we are reduced to living hour by hour upon trump's constant insane Tweeting).

Jurecic and Wittes prefer getting expert input on this, so lets see what they found:

Whittington instead proposed thinking about constitutional crises as “circumstances in which the constitutional order itself is failing.” In his view, such a crisis could take two forms. There are “operational crises,” in which constitutional rules don’t tell us how to resolve a political dispute; and there are “crises of fidelity,” in which the rules do tell us what to do but aren’t being followed. The latter is probably closest to the common understanding of constitutional crisis—something along the lines of President Andrew Jackson’s famous (if apocryphal) rejoinder to the Supreme Court, “[Justice] John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.” Or, to point to an example proposed recently by Whittington himself, such a crisis would result if congressional Republicans failed to hold Trump accountable for firing Mueller.
The constitutional scholars Sanford Levinson and Jack Balkin more or less agree with Whittington’s typology, but add a third category of crisis: situations in which the Constitution fails to constrain political disputes within the realm of normalcy. In these cases, each party involved argues that they are acting constitutionally, while their opponent is not. If examples of the crises described by Whittington are relatively far and few between—if they exist at all—Levinson and Balkin view crises of interpretation as comparatively common. One notable example: the battle over secession that began the Civil War...
...Whittington, Levinson and Balkin all agree that the notion of a constitutional crisis implies some acute episode—a clear tipping point that tests the legal and constitutional order. But how do we know this presidency isn’t just an example of the voters picking a terrible leader who then leads terribly? At what point does a bad president doing bad things become a problem of constitutional magnitude, let alone a crisis of constitutional magnitude?

This will be the tipping point: When trump fires or shuts down Mueller's ongoing criminal investigation into Russia's involvement with our elections, Russia's ties to trump, and trump's acts of Obstruction.

With that move, trump will prove he doesn't care about the Rule of Law, the procedural system we have in our Judiciary to uphold laws that apply to everyone (including Presidents). We've had special counsel investigations into Presidential and electoral activities before, and none of them - save Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre - were so openly blocked. It's interesting to note that Nixon's "massacre" only made things worse for him in public opinion: but what mattered was a Democratic-controlled Congress that became livid when Nixon interfered in a legal prosecutorial investigation like that.

The crisis this time will turn on whether Congress - run by Republicans terrified both of their rabid pro-trump voting base AND of their rabid billionaire SuperPAC funders - will step up to hold trump to account. The current odds say no... meaning it would all be up to general voters in the November 2018 midterms to step up and vote EVERY CORRUPT AND COWARDLY REPUBLICAN OUT OF OFFICE.

That is, if Putin lets us have free and honest elections this time. Considering how Putin runs his own elections (ah, he's corrupting one now) I doubt it.

We are so very royally fucked.


dinthebeast said...

Yeah, we have to win an election to do anything real to resolve this. And while we're at it, perhaps let's not let the Republicans who did this to us weasel out of responsibility for it like they did last time.
Burn the life boats! No rebranding. No new Tea Party. They're gonna own this.

-Doug in Oakland

Denny in Ohio said...

As has been mentioned in an early comment on this blog I left the republican party for reasons similar to Paul's, although it sadly took me longer than I care to admit. It is stunning to me that people can justify voting for republicans to a large extent. There are good ones, but they are guilty of an act of commission when they do not call out the president or seek to rein in the extremists in their party, which over decades has led us to this point. There is no going back for them, the party must be cleansed, but too many voters would rather settle for table scraps for wages and lifestyle in order to say "we won." Conor Lamb is a lesson in the futility of purity tests for democrats. As a long-time coach I learned the importance of getting the second interview. I was always honest, but I read the room and said what I needed to in order to get the second interview and/or the job. Democrats have been too willing to be submissive in the name of being above board and intellectually honest. Hogwash. Fight fire with fire when necessary and do your homework where knowing your constituency is concerned. If the purity pimps continue to sit out elections because the candidate doesn't exhibit some arbitrary perfection they are at least as guilty as the trump voters they claim to despise for the state our country.

Ed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ed said...

"Inasmuch as the Constitution was never signed, nor agreed to, by anybody, as a contract, and therefore never bound anybody, and is now binding upon nobody; and is, moreover, such an one as no people can ever hereafter be expected to consent to, except as they may be forced to do so at the point of the bayonet, it is perhaps of no importance what its true legal meaning, as a contract, is. Nevertheless, the writer thinks it proper to say that, in his opinion, the Constitution is no such instrument as it has generally been assumed to be; but that by false interpretations, and naked usurpations, the government has been made in practice a very widely, and almost wholly, different thing from what the Constitution itself purports to authorize. He has heretofore written much, and could write much more, to prove that such is the truth. But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain — that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist." ~ Lysander Spooner

Paul W said...

"Inasmuch as we've been accepting the Constitution as law for the last 230 odd years, and using our shared acceptance of it to fight for human rights, argue for the sanity and safety of our loved ones, and maintain a semblance of social order that even in this chaotic hour keeps us alive, I say to Lysander Spooner to go sit on it and spin" - Paul Wartenberg

eddie blake said...

good b5 quote. very relevant.

imo, we’ve been in a C. C. since mcconnell refused to hold hearings on garland, let ALONE giving him a FLOOR vote.