Sunday, December 30, 2018

BTRTN: The Turning of the Screwed

Happy New Year to all! We thought we'd make our last post of 2018 as upbeat as we possibly can, given, uh, basically everything that is happening in the world now.

Sure, your 401k is in the crapper, the government is shut down, and Facebook has been sharing your intimate private chats with the Fortune 500, but things could be worse.

On top of all that, you could be a Republican. The truth is that they are the people who are really getting screwed. 

As we turn toward 2019, the grand deal that Republicans made with the devil is beginning to smell like the fish you left in the trash that time that the garbage collector missed your pick-up.
It was all so much fun for the right wingers when the only consequence of Donald Trump’s lies was the sight of the liberal media going into pulmonary shock on a daily basis, agog with outrage at Trump’s projectile bullshitting.

Slowly, however – but surely -- things are changing. It is now becoming more apparent that Trump’s deceits have all been improvised explosive devices set on timers designed to detonate in the hands of Republicans. It is the Trump worshipers, lackeys, apologizers, enablers, and suck-ups -- from Ann Coulter to Rush Limbaugh to Mitch McConnell -- who are getting toasted by the time-bombs they were eagerly carrying for the President. 

The fiscal Republicans who wanted Trump in order to get a sweetheart tax overhaul, tough renegotiation of “stupid” trade deals, and broad rollback of governmental regulations are now finding that the financial markets are cratering in the wake of the trade wars, burgeoning deficits, and the economic policy chaos that reigns in the Trump administration. Wall Street does not speak in sound bytes, it communicates at the end of each trading day with triple-digit numbers in burning red.

The Republicans who wanted Trump because of a perception that Obama was weak on the world stage have found a President who splays himself before global thugs, negotiates by preemptively giving away the store, and ignores evidence of political murder, cyber-warfare, and manipulation of our elections.

The Republicans who expected that by now there would be a fifty foot tall border wall that was paid for by Mexico are finding out that no such wall exists, has even started to exist, should exist, or ever will exist. There is no longer even a pretense that Mexico is going to pay for it. They are also learning that the price of Trump’s radical anti-immigration tough border policy is a shameful practice of separating parents from children, and that two children below the age of eight have died in the custody of United States border security officials.

The Republicans who love Trump’s BSD posturing about a strong military were startled to see General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, H.R. McMaster, and General John Kelly all leave the administration, diminished and in disgust. The Commander-in-Chief, meanwhile, orders troop movements based on his political needs, sending troops to protect our southern border against an illusory invasion from poor immigrants, and away from a strategic role in Syria.

The Republicans who loved Trump’s convention speech about being the “law and order president” are witnessing a White House in open warfare with U.S. intelligence agencies and the FBI, and a President who actively seeks to discredit these vital government organizations.

The Republicans who wanted a CEO from the private sector to come in and bring world class business leaders to the task of governance are now seeing gaping vacancies in the Federal government leadership, and beleaguered Trump officials tagged with “acting” titles because no first class people want the stain and legal liability of working in this White House. The White House is filled with toadies, suck-ups, and sycophants, and Trump is actively recruiting more. 

The Republicans who supported Trump because he promised to repeal ObamaCare on day one and replace it with medical care that was "superior" and "far less expensive" have discovered that when Trump made his vow, he did not even begin to understand the complex world of medical insurance. They have learned that the primary Republican solution for lowering the cost of healthcare is to go back to a world where millions of Americans are uninsured, where preexisting conditions are not covered, and where taxpayers shoulder the burden of millions of emergency room visits that must be treated but cannot be paid for.

The Republicans who loved the idea that Donald Trump would “drain the swamp” have witnessed more guilty pleas, indictments, and corruption than any Presidency in memory, as cabinet officers resign in disgrace and the President himself openly violates the emoluments clause in the Constitution.

The Republican elected officials who hitched a ride with Trump in order to get a sweet tax deal and a few Supreme Court Justices are now finding Trump a bit too hot to handle. Mitch McConnell was publicly dissed when Trump welched on signing a stop-gap spending bill. One time Presidential aspirant Paul Ryan’s career is finished. Trump's concern that his supporters would become “tired of winning” must seem bitterly ironic to the the net 40 Republican Congressional Representatives who were sent packing in a mid-term blue wave. 

Sooner or later, Republicans have to notice that the only people who actually believed the bullshit in the first place were, uh, Republicans. Democrats may be angry, but they do not feel victimized by Trump’s deceit, because they were not naive, ignorant, cavalier, or willfully gullible enough to buy into any of it in the first place.   

But the people who believed it? They are starting to get pissed. They are beginning to feel victimized, let down, and manipulated. They are starting to voice their anger, disappointment, and sense of betrayal. Call it the turning of the screwed. 

Republicans are screwed because they believed Trump in the first place, and are now seeing that each of his brazen assertions and promises were baseless. 

Now Republicans have to be feeling even more screwed because now they are stuck to him like a piece of toilet paper on his heel, visible evidence of having been recently shat upon and yet unable to wriggle free. 

Do you think Ann Coulter actually believed Donald Trump when he said, “we are going to build a big beautiful wall all along our southern border, and Mexico is going to pay for it?” Uh, yeah! She wrote a book entitled In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome! Learning that the President was about to sign a stop gap budget bill with no funding for the wall she was promised, Coulter wrote a column entitled, “Gutless President in Wall-Less Country.” Rush Limbaugh piled on: “It looks like President Trump is caving on his demand for a measly one billion in the budget for his wall on the border with Mexico.” 

Do you feel it? The turning of the screwed. Trump took them all, hook, line, and sinker. He lied to their faces, humiliated many along the way, and brutally manipulated the ignorance and rage of many unemployed or underemployed Americans who felt abandoned by their government. 

The cracks in the blind wall of Republican allegiance can now be seen with the naked eye. 

Trump promised his supporters a foreign policy centered on the concept of “America First,” which is actually a far cry from the actual approach he has taken, better characterized as “America Alone.” Trump’s unilateral decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria was widely condemned in Republican leadership circles. Lindsay Graham finally put full voice to the thought that has been true of so many Trump actions: “if Obama had done this, we’d be going nuts now.” He went on to characterize Trump’s decision as an “Obama-like mistake,” a phrase that is guaranteed to make Trump’s blood boil. Marco Rubio upped the ante by declaring that Trump “is about to make a major blunder” in leaving Syria.

Trump’s decision on Syria was made without consultation with allies and in open defiance of the advice provided by his experts in the military and intelligence communities, causing General Mattis to resign and deliver a stinging letter of resignation. Mattis’ letter of resignation is best appreciated when viewed side-by-side with a Donald Trump tweet. The latter screech with all-cap manic impulsiveness, are devoid of factual or historical grounding, and are littered with typos, misspellings, and syntax malfunctions. Mattis wrote with firm, substantive, restrained resolve. He explained to the President of the United States why our nation evolved in the seventy years since World War II into the world’s preeminent power: unconditional alliances with allies and “clear-eyed” perspective on the threats from “malign actors and strategic competitors.” 

Even Senate Majority Leader and major Trump suck-up Mitch McConnell is showing signs of weariness and angst with Trump. McConnell publicly acknowledged that he was “distressed” over the Mattis resignation. Less that a week later, McConnell would be humiliated when he presented the President with a stop-gap funding bill that the White House had promised to approve, only to see Trump renege.

More Republican public rebukes: In a direct challenge to the President's mysterious deference to Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salma, the Senate passed a resolution that fingered the Crown Prince as "responsible" for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Wall Street is expressing its profound frustration with this President with a stunning plunge in the Dow Jones Industrial average, with wild swings not simply within a single trading days but within single hours. 

Perhaps the most egregious deceit of all is the fact that Trump's lies are often intended purely to distract his base and the media away from yesterday's debacle. This very slight-of-hand President is left to govern with sleight of hand. The government shut-down is the latest in a series of invented calamities that merely serve to cut off the media oxygen to a Def Con One explosion like the Mattis resignation. 

As the calendar turns to a New Year, we sense it clearly: the Republicans are increasingly wary of a White House acting without adult supervision, under unremitting legal pressure, and without any grounding in history, without any geopolitical savvy, without any clear objective other than gut judgments rooted in the purely political calculation of self-preservation. The Republicans are figuring out what the Dems have  known all along: if Donald Trump needs to save his political hide, he will do anything. Fire the Fed Chair. Shut down the government. Fire Mueller. Pull out of Afghanistan. Start a trade war. 

Start a real war.


So they are finally beginning the long, painful, embarrassing, and strenuous process of pulling their heads out of the sand. Better late than never.

The timing of this long-awaited reckoning could not be better. 

Imagine Republicans en masse feeling queasy about Trump’s grip on reality and uneasy about the meltdown he could cause for Republicans in 2020 at just the moment that Robert Mueller releases his final report.

Imagine how different the Republican response to that report might be if enough Republicans are calculating the Mike Pence is better positioned to lead the party in 2020 than Trump.

Watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve, Republicans. It won’t be tough to follow… it will follow the same trajectory as your party as long as you have that ball and chain named Trump clamped to your ankle.

2019 is going to be an interesting year indeed.

And it begins with the turning of the screwed. 

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