Now we know how the Trump presidency will end . . . it will be ugly and the Republic may not survive

More than anyone, Trump knows what Mueller will discover. He knows the legal peril that he and his family are in. He also knows that his presidency is certain to end — in some way — if that story ever becomes public.

We should remember this when we see how Trump acts in the weeks to come. Like a cornered rat, he will fight to protect his interests. In every conceivable way, he will work to stop Mueller’s probe, to challenge Congress if it intervenes, to undermine the press and judiciary if they get in the way and — yes — even to engage in reckless military adventures if he thought that would strengthen his position.”

We now know how the Trump presidency will end. Let’s hope we survive

America is hurtling towards a constitutional crisis that will rock its institutions to the core.

Its president and his business empire will soon be exposed as beholden to Russian oligarchs and mobsters.

Trump will try to fire special counsel Robert Mueller to prevent this from becoming known, but Congress will intervene.

His only remaining hope will be a 9/11-scale disaster or contrived war that he can exploit.

If we are lucky enough to survive all of the above, Trump will resign before he is impeached — but only in exchange for a pardon from his servile vice-president, Mike Pence.

A stark warning about how Trump suddenly could become popular

First the good news. In the space of six months Americans have already rendered their verdict on the Trump Administration, and it is devastating:.

President Trump’s approval rating has dropped by about one percentage point per month and now sits in the mid-30s. At the current rate, it would hit zero in September 2020. (A highly unlikely possibility, though with Donald Trump, anything is possible.) Measured in less quantifiable terms, Trump’s political decline has not occurred in so linear a fashion. It has happened, as Ernest Hemingway wrote about bankruptcy, gradually and then suddenly.

It is impossible to pinpoint one single event that has cemented Trump’s precipitous downfall in the eyes of the American people—from his buffoonish and arrogant conduct towards our European allies, to the stench of corruption evident in all of his Cabinet picks, to the corrosive, fetid pool of collusion forming from the constant dripping evidence that he cravenly sought to secure his election with the assistance of a hostile foreign dictator to whom he is clearly in some type of financial hock.  A great number of Americans recognized Trump as an abhorrent person, grossly unfit for the office well before he secured an Electoral College majority while losing the popular vote substantially.

But probably the most accurate take is simply that Americans—at least ones capable of critical thinking– have quickly grown weary of his narcissistic showmanship and strutting reality-TV arrogance. Trump is as far from a “role” model for American children as can be imagined, and it is painful for parents of young children in particular to have to explain such a loathsome presence in a government they are being brough up to honor and respect. Even Republicans in Congress no longer feel the need to fake showing this person any respect. The same is true for the people within his own Administration:

The conviction that Trump is dangerously unfit to hold office is indeed shared widely within his own administration. Leaked accounts consistently depict the president as unable to read briefing materials written at an adult level, easily angered, prone to manipulation through flattery, subject to change his mind frequently to agree with whomever he spoke with last, and consumed with the superficiality of cable television.

As Joathan Chait, writing for New York Magazine, observes, the items on Trump’s agenda—to the extent he has a real agenda—are unlikely to ameliorate his sorry approval ratings at this point. Tax “reform” geared to enrich the top 1% and the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction, all proposals Trump has threatened to pursue, will do nothing to reverse his fortunes in the eyes of the public.

Americans made a grievous mistake in electing this man, but the fact that they are coming around to recognize that fact is heartening.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that Trump is a single significant terror event away from regaining his popular standing and one quick war away from enjoying a wave of popularity that will enable him to inflict even worse damage on our Republic than he already has.

Trump could regain public standing through the rally-round-the-flag effect that usually occurs following a domestic attack or at the outset of a war. A miniature version of that dynamic was on display in April, when Trump launched a small missile strike on Syria, garnering widespread praise in the media for his newfound stature. The 9/11 attacks elevated George W. Bush’s approval ratings for three years, long enough for his party to gain seats in the 2002 midterms and for Bush, two years later, to win what is still the Republican Party’s only national-vote plurality victory since 1988.

An Administration that thrives on exploiting American fears would find the swimming immensely pleasurable in the aftermath of a serious terror attack on American soil. The fact that Trump and his cronies have such little regard for Constitutional constraints on their power to begin with suggests that they would make every attempt possible to subvert those constraints given the opportunity provided by terrorism. And if such an attack never comes, there are other ways of ginning up Americans’ support, most notably by starting a war.

The clearest and most obvious example of this was the atrocious and obsequious conduct of the US media as well as both political parties—but most notably the Democrats, in the wake of the September 11th attacks.

After 9/11, Democrats and the mainstream news media, harking back to the national unity that prevailed after Pearl Harbor, demonstrated their patriotism by supporting their president almost unquestioningly. That choice allowed Bush to escape scrutiny for policies that may have helped enable the attacks to happen.

Whie 9/11 occurred in a somewhat different era, the right wing media noise machine was not nearly as sophisticated, nor its audience as domesticated, as they are today. Today a large segment of the public has willfully walled itself off from facts, preferring to be told what is right or wrong exclusively by the likes of Breitbart and whatever makes it into their heavily-filtered Facebook newsfeed.

Chait argues that the way to prevent this same, knee-jerk reaction from happening again under Trump is for the responsible media, and the American people, to refuse to accept the assumption in the first place—to refuse to kowtow and accept what comes out of this Administration’s communication organs in the event of such an attack, or war—as worthy of consideration, given its amply-demonstrated horrendous incompetence, enthusiasm for wholesale lying and general venality:

The ability of a president to gain popularity by launching (or suffering) an attack is not a law of nature. It reflects, in part, choices — by the opposition to withhold criticism and by the news media to accept the administration’s framing of the facts at face value. A chaotic, still-understaffed administration led by a novice commander-in-chief who has alienated American allies deserves no benefit of the doubt. Everything from Trump’s incompetent management of the Department of Energy, which safeguards nuclear materials, to the now-skeletal State Department, to his blustering international profile has exposed the country to an elevated risk of a mass tragedy. A long-term task of the opposition is to prevent the crumbling presidency from transmuting that weakness into strength.

When the event occurs—and it will very likely occur, in some fashion or another—the key will be not to fall into the trap of rallying behind a demonstrably incompetent Administration, but instead to oppose and resist any attempt by Trump to usurp power or defy the Constitution, both of which he has shown himself more than willing to do. This means holding Trump and his cronies–and holding the media–to account for every word they utter, and every action they propose.

Why the biblethumpers love Trump . . . in spite of the fact that he’s the antithesis of all that is “Christian”

Donald Trump is a man of many notable qualities. He is ignorant and a brute. He has bragged about sexually assaulting women by grabbing them by their genitals. He is a serial womanizer and has been divorced several times. He has also admitted to finding his own daughter sexually attractive. He is a serial liar who adores autocrats and dictators. He may even have gone so far as to collude with Russia and Vladimir Putin to steal the 2016 presidential election. Trump is also violent, moody, vain and impulsive. He does not read and is proudly ignorant.

Why would anyone support such a leader? More specifically, why would any supposed “Christian” support Donald Trump, who appears to represent the antithesis of Christian virtues in so many ways?

Writing at Talking Points Memo, editor Josh Marshall offers the following insights:

But Trump is able to take people of some apparent substance and attainment and destroy them as well. The key though is that he doesn’t destroy them. In his orbit, under some kind of spell, he makes them destroy themselves. It is always a self-destruction. He’s like a black hole. But for this there’s no ready explanation. Because what is the power? The force?

I puzzled over this for some time. Eventually I sensed that Trump wasn’t inducing people’s self-destruction so much as he was acting like a divining rod, revealing rot that existed already but was not apparent. … The rot was there but hidden. Trump is the moonlight. Perhaps better to say, to invert our metaphor, Trump is the darkness. …

This seems most palpably the case with the political evangelical community with which Trump has maintained, since early in his campaign, a profound and profoundly cynical mutual embrace. Here I use the term advisedly: I don’t mean evangelical Christians or even conservative evangelical Christians but the evangelical right political faction, which is distinct and differentNothing I have seen before has more clearly revealed this group’s moral rot than the adoration of Trump, an unchurched hedonist with the moral compass of a predator who is lauded and almost worshipped purely and entirely because he produces political deliverables.

Despite his strong words, Marshall does not go far enough. Christian evangelicals (“Dominionists” and Christian nationalists especially) support Trump because he shares their most important values.

Trump and the Republican Party are waging a crusade to take away women’s reproductive rights and freedoms.

Trump and the Republican Party want to remove constitutional and other legal barriers that limit the ability of churches and other religious organizations to engage in overt political lobbying while retaining their tax-exempt status.

Trump and the Republican Party want to destroy the social safety net and believe that wealth and money are indicators of human worth and value. A belief in the “prosperity gospel” and a crude form of Calvinism where money and wealth are signs of being among “the elect” and of God’s blessing has been endorsed by many Christian evangelical leaders.

Trump and the Republican Party embrace racism and white supremacy. Southern Baptists and other white Christian evangelical faith communities have a long and deep history of racism against people of color — especially African-Americans.

There is also a biblical-mythological dimension for why Christian evangelicals support Trump. Many right-wing Christians have convinced themselves that he is a leader in the tradition of Cyrus the Great or King David who, while being deeply flawed, can be used as an instrument of God’s will.

There is another factor, rooted in emotion and irrationality, that also helps explain evangelical Christians’ support for Donald Trump.

New research published in the Journal of Religion and Health explains it this way:

The studies, based on surveys of more than 900 people, also found some similarities between religious and non-religious people. In both groups the most dogmatic are less adept at analytical thinking, and also less likely to look at issues from other’s perspectives. … The results showed religious participants as a whole had a higher level of dogmatism, empathetic concern and prosocial intentions, while the nonreligious performed better on the measure of analytic reasoning. Decreasing empathy among the nonreligious corresponded to increasing dogmatism.

Professor Anthony Jack highlights the implications of this research for American politics: “With all this talk about fake news, the Trump administration, by emotionally resonating with people, appeals to members of its base while ignoring facts.”

Jared Friedman, a co-author of this new research, concludes, “It suggests that religious individuals may cling to certain beliefs, especially those which seem at odds with analytic reasoning, because those beliefs resonate with their moral sentiments.”

Christian evangelicals’ rejection of empirical reality and their habituation into believing the absurd and the fantastical mates perfectly with the zealotry of the broader American right, which views politics as a form of religious fundamentalism.

Faith, after all, is a matter of believing in that which cannot be proven by normal or empirical means. This definition is a perfect description of both movement conservatism and the Christian right.

Ultimately, Christian evangelicals and Donald Trump are united in an imperfect marriage because they share mutual goals. This is an unholy alliance and, as such, a perfect emblem of today’s Republican Party.

Russians financed Trump’s campaign as well as campaigns of other big-name Republicans

Courtesy of Dallas News:  

Donald Trump and the political action committees for Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich and John McCain accepted $7.35 million in contributions from a Ukrainian-born oligarch who is the business partner of two of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s favorite oligarchs and a Russian government bank. 

During the 2015-2016 election season, Ukrainian-born billionaire Leonid “Len” Blavatnik contributed $6.35 million to leading Republican candidates and incumbent senators. Mitch McConnell was the top recipient of Blavatnik’s donations, collecting $2.5 million for his GOP Senate Leadership Fund under the names of two of Blavatnik’s holding companies, Access Industries and AI Altep Holdings, according to Federal Election Commission documents and OpenSecrets.org.

Marco Rubio’s Conservative Solutions PAC and his Florida First Project received $1.5 million through Blavatnik’s two holding companies. Other high dollar recipients of funding from Blavatnik were PACS representing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at $1.1 million, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham at $800,000, Ohio Governor John Kasich at $250,000 and Arizona Senator John McCain at $200,000. 

In January, Quartz reported that Blavatnik donated another $1 million to Trump’s Inaugural Committee. Ironically, the shared address of Blavatnik’s companies is directly across the street from Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in New York.

Right across the street huh? Well that’s certainly handy.

The Dallas News also makes this rather astute point:

Blavatnik’s relationships with Russian oligarchs close to Putin, particularly Oleg Deripaska, should be worrisome for Trump and the six GOP leaders who took Blavatnik’s money during the 2016 presidential campaign. Lucky for them no one has noticed. Yet.

Well guess what? We’ve noticed.

I should point out that this is not definitive proof that Russian oligarchs directed Blavatnik to donate any of this money, but of course they probably did.

And there is no proof that the donations have impacted the way that certain Republicans react to the news of Russian interference in our elections, but of course it certainly might.

And finally on its own this would probably not even seem like such a big deal, but when you add it to the pile of what we already know about the 2016 elections, well then it certainly does.

Trump’s ban on transgendered troops was result of his childish temper tantrum

We already knew that Donald Trump’s new ban against transgendered troops in our nation’s military came as a surprise to military leaders. Now we’re learning that the impetus for the sudden policy change was considerably more crude than even detractors suspected.

The short version? Politico reports that Donald Trump announced a ban on transgendered military members because he was frustrated with the government’s lawyers trying to explain the implications of such policies to him.

President Donald Trump’s White House and Defense Department lawyers had warned him against the transgender military ban for days. They were concerned about the ramifications of the policy, how military officials would respond and what legal backlash it could cause, two West Wing officials familiar with last month’s discussions said. The lawyers thought there would be plenty of time for more discussions and were analyzing arguments.Frustrated with being “slow-walked,” in the words of one White House official, the president took to Twitter last week — jarring many in the West Wing out of complacency and startling his lawyers, Defense Department officials and West Wing aides, who learned of the change in a series of tweets.

This is remarkable reporting, and paints a picture of Trump as exactly the sort of unstable, petty know-nothing that his worst critics feared. His advisers had come to him with a new policy request—originally, it seems to have been the Republican lawmakers’ demands to bar the military from paying for gender transition and hormone therapies. The implications of this were being hashed out by administration and military lawyers at the time; at some point, in the White House, this evolved into a discussion of banning transgendered service members outright. Possibly, and this is speculation on our part, because it would require fewer words.

Apparently, however, it was these discussions themselves that set Trump off. Too dim or hotheaded to grasp the nuances of the issue and too impatient to tolerate substantive explanations of it with others, he instead lashed out with his new, most simplistic “policy” banning transgendered service members apparently as an attempt to stop his own staff from asking him further questions on it.

The administration had no plan in place, but Trump told others they would have to “get in gear” if he announced the ban first, one White House adviser who spoke to Trump said. He also said the announcement would stop the lawyers from arguing with him anymore.

That, of course, hasn’t quite happened. The implications of Trump’s would-be ban have not gone away simply because he said it out loud; it remains unenforced while the same lawyers grapple with turning his crude, primitive solution into something both practical and legal. The military services themselves are not implementing the ban and will not implement the ban until they get language from the White House that is implementable. There has been considerable political fallout, with even stalwarts of his own party issuing public condemnations of the move.

But Trump appears to have believed that by simply issuing his Twitter decree, the decision would magically become legal and enforceable and keep him from having to make further decisions on it. And he did it because he was tired of his own advisers and experts attempting to ask him and warn him about the various nuances of the original “issue.”

Let’s cut through the bullshit about the Affordable Care Act

When the ACA (“Obamacare”) was passed, it mandated that insurance companies had to insure everyone who signed up regardless of whether they had pre-existing conditions and regardless of their health status. Insurance companies were required to add millions of new insureds to their roles and insurers had no way of actuarially assessing their risk and no way to accurately set policy pricing. Because of this, everybody agreed that insurance companies would probably lose money in the first decade or so until the insurance industry was able to have real numbers to assess their risks and to price insurance policies accurately and to have the newly insureds’ health status stabilize.

The millions of new insureds would would cost more up front to assess their health and to stabilize any pre-existing health problems. Over time, once the newly insureds’ health was stabilized, their healthcare costs would go down. As an example, a new insured may need many health tests upfront (MRI’s, blood tests, etc.) to determine the cause of an illness or just to determine their overall health status. Once all of the testing and health assessments are completed, they are diagnosed, and have a treatment plan (medications etc.), the insureds may only need annual health check ups. So the costs of all of these new insureds with unknown health problems would probably be much higher in the beginning and then lower or stabilize over time.

To get insurance companies on board with the risk, Obamacare included a safety net for insurance companies. Obamacare said that the government would cover insurance losses using a pool of fees collected from the insurance companies under Obamacare. If an insurance company was going to go bankrupt from insuring the risky new individuals, the government would cover their losses out of this insurance company fee pool. The fee charged to insurance companies was to spread the risk among all insurance companies to create a safety net for the insurance industry.

This safety net encouraged the insurance industry to take the huge risk of insuring these millions of new people with unknown health status. This was called the “risk corridor.” The risk corridor payments were to be a safety net until the insurance policy market stabilized. On December 9, 2015, however, Marco Rubio and several other Republicans slipped a little noticed provision into a giant spending bill, gutting the safety net of risk corridor payments to insurance companies.

As a result of the lack of a safety net, insurance companies were thrown into a crisis. This caused a chain reaction of events in mostly poor, red states. First, dozens of non-profit insurance companies that were started under Obamacare to provide low cost insurance policies (with no profit margins) in mostly poor and low income red states went bankrupt. Moreover, because of this huge, new risk Republicans created, many insurance companies began to do either of two things: 1) greatly increase their premium prices to offset their risk or 2) entirely pull out of the markets in mostly poor, low income red states. This left some states with only one insurer. It also left so many small insurance companies in distress that they were easily gobbled up by the insurance giants and the insurance giants have successfully eliminated all competition in many markets. As you know, when there is no competition, there is typically price gouging.

This is why there was an explosion of news stories in 2016 (during the lead up to the Presidential election) about premium costs rising and insurers backing out of the market. The sad truth of the matter is Republicans are so cynical that they would purposely hurt their own constituents to try to get political advantage and create bad news stories about Obamacare. Republicans purposefully broke Obamacare and purposefully hurt their own constituents for political advantage. People are suffering, but it is not from Obamacare. They are suffering because the Republicans purposefully hurt them. The people most hurt by them gutting the risk corridors were their own red state, rural, and poor voters and Trump voters. People need to wake up on what really happened.

Talk about coverups — Trump admitted he was sexually attracted to his 13-yr-old daughter, Washington Post covered up for him

https://www.buzzfeed.com/tamerragriffin/trump-asked-if-its-wrong-to-be-attracted-to-his-daughter?utm_term=.cyj6mZevLL#.pqn5RdVxXX

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote that President-elect Donald Trump once asked, “Is it wrong to be more sexually attracted to your own daughter than your wife?” — but the quote was quietly removed before the syndicated column was published Tuesday.

SNIP

The reporting appeared in an advance version of the column that was circulated on Monday for publication on Tuesday and thereafter. It appeared as an aside after the introduction of Jared Kushner, which still appears in the final column:

Jared Kushner, our Tom Hagen, who married Trump’s stunning daughter Ivanka — “Can I ask you something?” Trump asked someone I know, about his then-13-year-old kid, “Is it wrong to be more sexually attracted to your own daughter than your wife?” — has lately lost some of this Boy Scout aura. It turns out Kushner’s admission to Harvard was preceded by his father’s $2.5 million pledge.

Outlets received another version of the column later in the day, with the text between the “—” removed. None of the sites that syndicate Cohen’s column appear to have published the quote in the draft.

Here’s a possibility . . . not predicting, just saying

Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2017, Donald Trump will address the nation. He will open with a string of grievances, which will include but not be limited to, the press distorting his actions, the “deep state” undermining him, the Republicans abandoning him, the Democrats obstructing him, the intelligence agencies conspiring against him and many more of his fantasies.

This will be as a result of pending indictments against many of Trump’s associates and family members. The investigation not only threatens them, but the Trump businesses as well. His frustration will be overwhelming because he can’t control events and because circumstances are spiraling into areas that will expose the foundation of fraud and lies on which his whole life, business, and persona is built.

As a result, his speech will then lead him to declare scores of Presidential pardons, which will include dozens of the aforementioned family, friends and associates, effectively shutting down the Russian investigation.

Trump then will announce his resignation, with the understanding that Pence, once he is sworn in as President will then pardon Trump (remember Gerald Ford’s Nixon pardon?).

I’m not predicting . . . just saying . . .