“Rants From The Madman”

Famously, when Jimmy Carter was president, the Boston Globe “accidentally” ran a headline over an editorial that read: “Mush From the Wimp.”  There was no Internet to make it go viral, but today surely it would.

Today, to label Trump’s tweets as “rants from the madman” seems almost an understatement, and there is already plenty of obvious commentary.  So here are some addition questions:

When will be start seeing resignations from the national security team?

Is the legal team now obliged to formally withdraw representations that they have made to the Fourth, and Ninth Circuits, and to the Supreme Court.  Remember, lawyers can not make affirmative mis-representations to a court.

Will we see resignations from the Solicitor General’s Office, or just an inability to find staff to do the work?

Is there any chance that the Supreme Court will now grant review in the “travel Ban case.”  The risk of them being dissed during the process, such as after hearing, or after decision, is great.  If I were Roberts, I would take no action till the Ninth Circuit agrees with the Fourth (as it surely will), and then see if I have seven or more votes to put the President firmly in his place.  If not, I would do nothing, at least till there is a split from another Circuit.  I do not see how the Court can afford to be seen to be baling Trump out after today.  And, a 5-4 either way would be an absolute institutional disaster for the Court (US v. Nixon was 9-0).

Does the almost systematic dissing of one cabinet member after another mean that a 25th Amendment majority is starting to build up?  What is Pence thinking tonight.

Many previously loyal Republican commentators seem numb tonight.  Republican politicians have fallen largely quiet.  When will they start raising issues of Presidential inability to do the job? 

Finally, whatever else you can say, you can not argue with the fact that each week, things move faster an faster.   Things that would, the prior week, have seemed crazy to suggest, actually happen.

Our brains are lagging indicators.  Like any tipping point, when it comes, it will come quicker than we can possibly expect.

 

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Melania Tells Her Diary (and Us) What Advice She Has Been Giving Donald

Its been a long time since I (Melania) have been able to smuggle any of my diary out.  But Donny is now so preoccupied, that I can do so.

He even asked me what to do as President, and this is what I told him:

Fire the FBI director at a time that looks maximally suspicious.

After the whole Republic party and your staff has been pushing an explanation of the firing, go on NBC to deny that story.

In that interview be clear, if not explicit, that you were doing this because of the Russia investigation.

Hint that you were threatening the FBI director

Make sure that you and the FBI director are getting out different descriptions of the conversation, so as to make any record really important.

Have a meeting with Nixon protege Kissinger.

Meet with senior Russian officials.

Allow Russians to cover the meeting but not the US pool or press.

Hint that you have taping in the Oval office.

Make your spokesman refuse to confirm or deny that taping.

Threaten to abolish the press briefings.

Pretty good for one week. Huh?

Well, what am I up to?  You have to choose.

  1. I want him back in New York soon.
  2. I want him in jail so I get a great divorce outcome.
  3. I am trying to be helpful.
  4. He wants out and I promised to do the research and make suggestions.

p.s. I really enjoyed All the President’s Men.  My next project is to read The Final Days.  I also have Woman on the Edge of Time and Hamlet on my list.

Any additional research suggestions?

A Strong Inference that the WH Counsel Talked to Trump About How to Respond to Yates’ Concerns

The day after Sally Yates talked to White house Counsel (or is it Council?) he came back with questions, somewhat reminiscent of those John Dean might have asked, but much less intelligent or knowledgeable.  Washington post, Dana Milibank:

He called the DOJ officials back to the White House the next day and asked them a perplexing question, Yates recounted to a Senate Judiciary subcommittee Monday afternoon: Why does it matter to DOJ if one White House official lies to another White House official?

Yates explained what should have been self-evident: Not only were Pence and the American public entitled to know the truth, but the Russians also knew that Flynn had lied to the vice president — so the Russians had the goods on him. “To state the obvious, you don’t want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians,” Yates testified. “Logic would tell you that you don’t want the national security adviser to be in a position where the Russians have leverage over him.”

But Trump didn’t move to fire Flynn. He fired Yates instead.

 At the White House counsel’s request, Yates had arranged for him to see the evidence against Flynn on Monday, Jan. 30. But he didn’t come that day, and that night Yates was sacked for refusing to implement Trump’s order banning travelers from several majority-Muslim nations.
Well, where on earth did counsel Don McGahn come up with that question?  I would have think the answer would have been obvious to the cleaning staff.
But the Donald, not so clear.
Now, as we learned from Watergate, White House calls, meetings, etc., may not have tapes and transcripts, but they are all logged.  So the circumstantial case for Presidential involvement in the Flynn cover-up, for cover up is what it certainly appears to have been, grows, and the lurking question of motive gets larger.  That Obama had previously at least generally warned Trump off Flynn, to no avail, and that Spicer now says that the warning was ignored as sour grapes from a loser, does not help Trump’s case at all.
P.S. Is it not tragically and deliciously ironic that the Trump White House had to ask why it would be a problem if someone lied?  Did they have to look up the meaning of the word?

 

 

Polls Say Trump Voters Are Happy With Him — But We Know Trump Voters Can Not Easily and Reliably Be Polled

There has been a lot of reporting of how Trump has not lost much support of those who voted for him.

But do we know how reliable the self-reporting of prior voting behavior is.  I wonder if anyone has been checking if the self-reporting of Trump voting is consistent with the actual votes.

We know hat Trump voters are low education, we know that they are often hard to get to answer polls, and we suspect that they may be less prone to tell the truth (at least to pollsters.)

So there may be lots of hidden dissatisfied Trump voters out there.  I remember the moment during Watergate when Nixon’s reputation became so poisonous that more people remembered that they had voted against him than for him.

If this theory is right, it holds particular danger for Republlicans facing reelection in 2018, because it will make it harder to track the Trump voters whose reason for turning against a Republican incumbent is his or her support for Trump.

Worth keeping an eye on.

 

Trump’s “Finely Tuned Machine” Sounds More Like a Nixon Tape Transcript

I was reading through the transcript of Trump’s press conference, and started to feel in my gut that I had been here before.

Then I realized what it was.  It was just like reading an old Nixon tape transcript.  Look at this from today:

It’s very important to me and especially in this position. It’s very important. I don’t mind bad stories. I can handle a bad story better than anybody as long as it’s true and, you know, over a course of time, I’ll make mistakes and you’ll write badly and I’m OK with that. But I’m not OK when it is fake. I mean, I watch CNN, it’s so much anger and hatred and just the hatred.

I don’t watch it any more because it’s very good — he’s saying no. It’s OK, Jim (ph). It’s OK, Jim (ph), you’ll have your chance. But I watch others too. You’re not the only one so don’t feel badly. But I think it should be straight. I think it should be — I think it would be frankly more interesting. I know how good everybody’s ratings are right now but I think that actually — I think that’d actually be better.

And

No, that’s how I won. I won with news conferences and probably speeches. I certainly didn’t win by people listening to you people. That’s for sure. But I’m having a good time.

Tomorrow, they will say, “Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.” I’m not ranting and raving. I’m just telling you. You know, you’re dishonest people. But — but I’m not ranting and raving. I love this. I’m having a good time doing it.

But tomorrow, the headlines are going to be, “Donald Trump rants and raves.” I’m not ranting and raving.

For those of us who remember Nixon with a certain distorted nostalgia, it is all there.  The resentment, particularly at the press, the belief that he can handle thing that others can not.  His claim not to care about it.  His insults.  His repetition when a point has been made.  Above all it is the constant sense of being aggrieved and a victim, and that he is the only straight shooter in the room.

There is only one problem.  Nixon was speaking in private.  Trump is speaking in public.

I wonder what on earth is he like in private?  Oh, actually, we do know. He is focused on privates.

 

Rules for Sanity Under this Administration

I am trying to understand how to understand what is happening and keep our sanity.  Some suggested rules.

1.  Never take anything the administration says or does at face value.

As Jarred Bernstein points out, Trump operates it the two modes of telling an audience what they want to hear, and “trying to put perceived enemies and negotiating opponents back on their heels.”  I think I would put it differently, that he and his team are always engaging in misdirection and conflict.  No other strategy is comprehensible to them.

2.  Remember that what he says can be a guide to what he wants, but that you can only figure it out by understanding the context.

It may be to distract attention from something.  It may be a feint, so you argue and organize against what is not happening anyway.  It may be designed to destroy an opponent or potential opponent.  It may be for short term gratification.  If you can not figure that out, it is better to ignore the statements completely.  Any other way madness lies.  Focus only on actions.

3.  Remember the relevant context that explains the purpose is as likely to be within his own operation, as it is the world as a whole.

Most likely the motivation is the desire to avoid any centralization of power other than in himself.  Bu it could also reflect a desire to delay decision, create uncertainty, or even to shift internal dynamics indirectly.

4.  While there are smart people in the operation, that’s mainly an accident, so expect confusion, chaos, and massive incompetence, disguised as uniqueness.

No need to look for evidence of that.

5.  Because their motives and goals are so hard to figure, expect to find it really hard to know whether the problem is the goal, the plan, or the execution.

Just remember that with this gang it is most likely to be all of them.

6.  Remember that the bureaucracy always wins in the end.

They stay, you go.  “Yes Mr. President.”

7.  Plan to be always and repeatedly disappointed by non-Trump Republicans.

They made their fundamentally bankrupt choice long ago, and would be destroyed if they tried to change it. It is OK to use their public hesitancy to undercut Trump, but know that they will fall in line in the end, or rather will do so until #9 kicks in.

8.  Never underestimate the tendency of any incoming leader, let alone this gang, to overestimate their popularity, wisdom, knowledge, skill, luck, and capacity.

There are no exceptions to this rule.  The only possible one I can think of is Ike.  Part of his secret was having no ego needs.  Compare and contrast.

9.  When the tipping point comes close, it will suddenly accelerate very quickly.

Nixon was not liked by his colleagues, but he was respected.  Most, except the business leaders being shaken down for contributions, had no real reason to fear hm.  Almost no one wants Trump in.  They are trying to get what they can out of him.  When the calculus of interest changes, so will their public posture, and very quickly.

10.  Never underestimate the power of the intelligence “community” to protect itself.

And, know that you will never see how it actually operated to do so.  Remember, “Deep Throat” was Deputy Director of the FBI.

11.  No President can reverse the tides of globalization, any more than Canute could stop the waves.  A leader could help mitigate the effects, but not with the policies this one advocates.

History is divided into 1) those who understood the tides of history and try to take advantage of them, 2) those who did not, and tried to ignore and reverse them, and 3) those who understood, were to optimistic in their understanding of the implications, and were foiled by their over-ambition.  Decide for yourself which group Trump fits into.

 

 

Nixon’s Watergate Tweets Discovered

The back story is a bit unclear, but it turns out that Donald Trump will not be the first President to have used Twitter.  In fact, Trump and his staff have found that Richard Nixon was tweeting throughout all of Watergate.  Trump believes that making this public will help show how presidential he, Trump is, so with the help of the NSA all the preserved tweets are slowly being released.

Here are some of those which show how much he used twitter to rehearse later statements.

NOT A CROOK!!!!!!!!!

Washington Post losers Going to put Katies tits through the wringer.

Arch Cox NOW history — Sad.

Dishonest Elliot Richardson OUT tomorrow.

Ruckelshouse worse — OUT.

Bork the GREATEST. On the way to SCOTUS!!!!!!!!! Huge.

Congressman Evidence.  So sad.

Jews very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious.  [Compare.]

Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union not American concern. [Compare.]

No Jewish coming back from Vietnam on any of those lists; don’t know how the hell.  The Canadian-Swedish contingent,  Jewish. Deserters. Evil.  [Compare]

The President does it, not illegal. [Compare]

No. Not lying. Said things that later on seemed untrue. [Compare]

Seriously, the process of “tweetifying”Nixon into Trump is easily done by just removing all unnecessary words.   Additions to this list welcomed in the comments.  Links to Nixon quotes appreciated but not required.  “Very Easy.  Just the GREATEST.”