Fig. 1. Clay Bennett, Donald Trump as a biohazard in the Fountain of Knowledge, June 8, 2018, via Arcamax, fair use.
A few days ago, I wrote,
From what I can see the conventional wisdom is that if Donald Trump is removed from office, it will most likely be via impeachment. But, to my understanding, the 25th amendment offers a quicker and—I think at least in the short term—less painful route, at least to the end of getting Trump out of office. And while I’m no fan of having mental health professionals violate the Goldwater Rule and believe that there’s more value to that rule than just not getting sued, in combination with Trump burning Mossad and demonstrating himself to be a threat to “national security,” these remote assessments do provide a rationale.
This issue of the (Supposedly) Daily Bullshit offers heaps of additional evidence for that rationale.
Neither this nor impeachment is a step that should be taken lightly. As I’m sure some have observed, there is little functional difference between deposing Trump with the 25th amendment and a coup d’etat. And we should also consider who would replace Trump. While I haven’t analyzed Vice President Mike Pence’s record, I have the impression he is a traditionalist conservative; if so, any prospect of his presidency should scare the hell out of women and everyone who cares for or about women. But Trump is manifestly unfit for office.
- June 5, 9:53 pm:
- June 6, 10:17 pm:
- Uber has fired 20 employees, taken action in 100 instances, and still investigating some of originally 215 complaints. (Ridesharing)
- And then there’s Donald Trump on Qatar.
- The City of San Francisco, whose government hates but whose residents love Uber and Lyft, is investigating whether the companies are a “public nuisance.”
- The British election was supposed to be a referendum on Theresa May’s handling of Brexit and on neoliberalism, but will now be about security.
- More on the quandary that Donald Trump has introduced for his legal team in defending the Muslim Ban.
- June 7, 3:08 pm:
- James Comey’s prepared remarks for his appearance at a Congressional committee have been made available, confirming expectations, adding a demand for loyalty from Donald Trump, and adding that “[o]n several occasions [Comey] assured the president that the FBI didn’t have an “active counter-intelligence investigation” into him.”
- For Jennifer Rubin, the question seems not to be whether Donald Trump will be impeached, but rather whether Republicans do it, or lose control of Congress in 2018, and thus allow Democrats to do it. (James Comey)
- Donald Trump is upset with Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the investigations into the Trump team’s relationships with Russia but it remains unclear whether Trump will actually fire Sessions. (James Comey)
- June 7, 5:30 pm:
- It appears a case can be made that, if accurate, Donald Trump’s requests of James Comey to drop the investigation of Mike Flynn would amount to obstruction of justice.
- June 7, 10:56 pm:
- Added editorial comic at the top of the entry.
- June 8, 12:11 pm:
- James Comey testified that he thought Donald Trump was instructing him to drop the FBI’s investigation into Mike Flynn but not the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
- Jeffrey Toobin adds his voice to those calling James Comey and others’ testimony evidence of obstruction of justice.
- June 8, 5:20 pm:
- Donald Trump’s lawyer attempts to 1) spin James Comey’s testimony, and 2) invoke executive privilege after the fact. Yes, really. And no, I doubt he persuaded anybody.
- Theresa May’s gamble appears to have backfired as Conservatives have lost their governing majority in Parliament. (Brexit)
- June 9, 3:31 am:
- The Hill has resurrected its horse race coverage for the James Comey testimony.
- So, honestly, I wasn’t looking for further evidence in support of my comments at the beginning of this newsletter, but here’s Donald Trump in the wake of an attack in Tehran. (Donald Trump and Iran)
- Alex Hern thinks Uber has developed an immunity to criticism. (Ridesharing)
- June 9, 11:53 am:
- Theresa May lost the election but is forming a government anyhow. (Brexit)
- Theresa May came under considerable pressure to resign following her defeat. (Brexit)
- June 9, 2:02 pm:
- “Young voters turned out at the polls in unexpectedly large numbers, and to the dismay of Prime Minister Theresa May and her Conservatives, a surprising number of Britons who favor the U.K.’s exit from the European Union didn’t give them their vote.” Apparently, the young may have felt they needed to turn out after the Brexit vote, in which the young didn’t turn out, and after the 2016 election, in which the young (disenchanted with Hillary Clinton) didn’t turn out. (Brexit)
- At the neoconservative Weekly Standard, Dominic Green is blistering in his assessment of Theresa May’s campaign. (Brexit)
- June 9, 4:11 pm:
- Also at the Weekly Standard, Christopher Caldwell—and this is amazing for a neoconservative—points to neoliberal failings in explaining Theresa May’s defeat.
- Annabelle Dickson at Politico’s global edition analyzes Theresa May’s defeat.
- And as to Donald Trump’s lawyer trying to invoke executive privilege after the fact? For starters, we’re not even clear that it’s executive privilege. But in any event, there’s probably no legal case to be made for it. (James Comey)
How can I say that Donald Trump has made an ass of himself with his remarks—tweets mostly—on the so-called “terrorist” attack on London when it is already so obvious that he is an ass? It all seems really rather pointless.
Jennifer Rubin, “With his London tweets, Trump embarrasses himself — and America — once again,” Washington Post, June 4, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/06/04/with-his-london-tweets-trump-embarrasses-himself-and-america-once-again/
John Cassidy, “Trump’s London Tweets: How Low Can He Stoop?” New Yorker, June 5, 2017, http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/trumps-london-tweets-how-low-can-he-stoop
Azi Paybarah, “De Blasio: ‘I don’t understand’ why Trump is ‘trying to undermine’ London’s mayor,” Politico, June 5, 2017, http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2017/06/05/de-blasio-on-trump-maybe-he-doesnt-have-a-lot-of-experience-handling-security-situations-112519
Apparently, among other idiotic tweets, Donald Trump tweeted, “People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” Actually, he should be more honest and call it what it really is, a Muslim ban. And the mainstream media should stop enabling him by also calling it a “travel ban.”
Amy Davidson, “Trump’s “Travel Ban” Tweets Show His Disdain for His Lawyers,” New Yorker, June 5, 2017, http://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson/trumps-travel-ban-tweets-show-his-disdain-for-the-law
Amber Phillips, “How Trump just completely undermined the legal argument for his travel ban, in 4 tweets,” Washington Post, June 5, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/06/05/how-trump-just-completely-undermined-the-legal-argument-for-his-travel-ban-in-4-tweets/
Matt Zapotosky, “Trump’s latest tweets will probably hurt effort to restore travel ban,” Washington Post, June 5, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trumps-latest-tweets-could-hurt-effort-to-restore-travel-ban/2017/06/05/c8eb5940-49e8-11e7-bc1b-fddbd8359dee_story.html
A few days ago, I wrote, “I wouldn’t call it ‘blue chip’ quality yet, but a bet that Republicans will fail to repeal and replace Obamacare is seeming safer and safer.” There’s certainly nothing here to alter that assessment.
Alexander Bolton, “Senate returns more pessimistic than ever on healthcare,” Hill, June 5, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/336145-senate-returns-more-pessimistic-than-ever-on-healthcare
So this morning [June 5], I found myself laboriously typing out a defense of Geoffrey Pullum’s choice of the term “grammar conservative” on my smartphone. It’s actually quite apt.
Geoffrey Pullum, “Why Won’t They Heed Plain Facts?” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 4, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2017/06/04/why-wont-they-heed-plain-facts/
Eric Columbus, “Why Trump Can’t Keep Comey From Talking,” Politico, June 5, 2017, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/05/donald-trump-james-comey-testimony-215229
Dara Lind, “The Trump White House is really hanging Jeff Sessions out to dry,” Vox, June 7, 2017, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/6/7/15757354/trump-jeff-sessions
Jennifer Rubin, “The other shoes start falling,” Washington Post, June 7, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/06/07/the-other-shoes-start-falling/
Carly Sitrin, “The ‘obstruction of justice’ tweets are already flying,” Vox, June 7, 2017, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/6/7/15759086/scholars-trump-comey-obstruction-of-justice
Del Quentin Wilber, “Trump Sought Comey’s Loyalty, Ex-FBI Director to Say,” Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-told-comey-i-need-loyalty-i-expect-loyalty-ex-fbi-director-to-say-in-prepared-remarks-1496858755
Jonathan Easley, “Winners and losers from Comey’s testimony,” Hill, June 8, 2017, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/337061-winners-and-losers-from-comeys-testimony
Jeffrey Toobin, “James Comey’s Remarkable Story About Donald Trump,” New Yorker, June 8, 2017, http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/james-comeys-remarkable-story-about-donald-trump
Del Quentin Wilber and Byron Tau, “Comey Says He Felt Trump Directed Him to Drop Flynn Probe,” Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/comey-says-trump-administration-defamed-him-and-the-fbi-1496932512
Sean Illing, “Trump’s lawyer: Comey violated executive privilege. 10 legal experts: No, he didn’t,” Vox, June 9, 2017, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/6/9/15764954/comey-testimony-donald-trump-fbi-executive-privilege
Donald Trump had failed to reaffirm Article 5 of the NATO treaty which commits members to collective defense. After berating those members for failing to pay their allegedly “fair” share, this omission caused some alarm. Apparently the omission also caught Trump’s national security team off guard, and this is what it’s come to:
“To quote a British observer of us from some years back, bear with us,” [Defense Secretary James] Mattis told the questioner. “Once we have exhausted all possible alternatives, the Americans will do the right thing.”
“So,” he added: “we will still be there, and we will be there with you.”
Susan B. Glasser, “Trump National Security Team Blindsided by NATO Speech,” Politico, June 5, 2017, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/05/trump-nato-speech-national-security-team-215227
Somehow, all these numbers seem low to me for an organization the size of Uber with the reputation that Uber has acquired, but I guess “[t]he number of employees fired en masse for poor behavior is ‘unprecedented,’ particularly given the seriousness of the claims, said Jason Schloetzer, a professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business who specializes in corporate governance.”
Heather Somerville, “San Francisco investigating whether Uber, Lyft are public nuisances,” Reuters, June 5, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-san-francisco-rideservices-idUSKBN18W2F3
Tracey Lien, “Uber fires 20 workers after harassment investigation,” Los Angeles Times, June 6, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-tn-uber-sexual-harassment-20170606-story.html
Alex Hern, “How low does Uber have to go before we stop using it?” Guardian, June 8, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/08/uber-customers-sexual-harassment-tech-companies
Ellen Mitchell, “Pentagon can’t square Trump comments on Qatar,” Hill, June 6, 2017, http://thehill.com/policy/defense/336555-pentagon-cant-square-trump-comments-on-qatar
On Sunday [June 4], I was concerned that the attack on London might sway voters to the right in the coming election, which might otherwise have focused on Theresa May’s handling of Brexit and on competing visions of neoliberalism. From this, I worried that the resulting right-wing policies would exacerbate rather than relieve the causes of such attacks, leading to a vicious cycle where ever more outrages push politicians ever further to the right, leading to ever further right-wing policies, further exacerbating the causes, leading to ever more bloodshed. (This is what I meant, anyway, even if I expressed it entirely too briefly.) But here’s the other way that may have played out: It turns out that Theresa May had “presid[ed] over a decision to cut the number of police officers when she was home secretary, a decision [the Labour Party] said put Britain at risk.”
Analyses are starting to come in on why the vote came out as it did. Overall, Conservatives and the Scottish National Party lost seats while Labour gained. Nonetheless, Theresa May, who appears, to the extent U.S. analogs apply, neoconservative, is forming a government with support from the Democratic Unionist Party, which, to the extent U.S. analogs apply, appears strongly social conservative. At the neoconservative Weekly Standard, Dominic Green explains that this isn’t nearly so significant or really even as defiant as it might seem:
British law obliges May to try to form a minority government. The support of the Conservatives’ old allies, the Unionist MPs of Northern Ireland, will push her over the 326-seat majority. But this will only prolong her death agony. She cannot continue as party leader after this disaster. She campaigned on competence and has been rejected. She cannot “just about manage.” She should resign as soon as possible.
As to the loss itself, in the Wall Street Journal, Paul Hannon emphasizes the youth vote:
“We’ve had Trump, we’ve had Brexit, and both were instances where people thought it was never going to happen and didn’t bother to vote,” [Anthony Wells, director of political and social opinion polling at YouGov] said. “Those surprise results made it more important for people to vote for what they believe in.”
College towns and districts with a higher proportion of younger voters saw rises in the Labour’s share of the vote, in the double digits.
A survey of 14,000 people who voted Thursday, commissioned by Michael Ashcroft, a former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, found that 67% of those aged 18 to 24 voted for Labour. The Conservative Party was supported by 59% of those aged 65 and over.
Dominc Green at the neoconservative Weekly Standard is blistering in his assessment:
What went wrong? Everything: the grand strategy, the policies, the personalities. In the Brexit referendum and in recent by-elections, traditional Labour voters in the north of England had shown signs of defecting to UKIP and the Tories. May’s team tried to create a permanent Tory bridgehead in this working-class Labour territory. The Conservative vote there rose, but not high enough to win seats. Like Hillary Clinton, Theresa May has lost an election she should have won—though not, as Clinton did, by neglecting key working-class constituencies, but by focusing on them too much.
On policy, May’s campaign made a number of U-turns that undermined her talk of competence, toughness, and stability. A proposal to replace free lunches in state schools with free breakfasts alienated low-income voters. Solid middle-class Conservatives were appalled by the suggestion of a “dementia tax,” which would effectively force them to cover the cost of old age care by selling their most valuable legacy, their homes. Neither fiasco convinced this season’s key electoral segment, the “JAMs” (voters who are “just about managing”) that May knew what she was doing.
The terrorist attacks in Manchester and London focused attention on May’s unimpressive record at the Home Office, too. They also forced her to attempt spontaneity. Which, for her, was a mistake: Witness her ill-judged and alarming promise to “rip up” Britain’s human rights’ laws in order to augment counterterrorism efforts.
The more the voters saw of Theresa May, the less they liked her. It became clear that she wasn’t a second Thatcher, a “bloody difficult woman.” She wasn’t even a second John Major, chosen to unify a party divided over Europe, and able to use a lukewarm common touch to win an election. She was another Edward Heath—cold, incompetent, and not as popular as she thought.
Also at the Weekly Standard, here’s Christopher Caldwell admitting what should, for neoconservatives, be unthinkable:
But with all their unleashing-entrepreneurship talk, it was May’s people, not Corbyn’s, who were dwelling in the past. The center-right Tories are indeed good at producing growth. So was the Labour party when the “moderates” Tony Blair and Gordon Brown ran it. But neither party has shown the slightest inclination to share the wealth. When the economy grows by 1 percent, the rich take 2 percent, it seems. When it grows by 2 percent, they take 3 percent. This is really all that matters. If the fox knows many things and the hedgehog knows one big thing, Corbyn is a hedgehog. The big thing he knows is fighting inequality.
Bonus points if you noticed these are all U.S.-based assessments of the outcome. It might be nice to hear from the British themselves.
Jenny Gross, “Attack Makes Security Focus of U.K. Election,” Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/attack-makes-security-focus-of-u-k-election-1496686004
Christopher Caldwell, “Theresa May’s Gamble Goes Bust,” Weekly Standard, June 8, 2017, http://www.weeklystandard.com/theresa-mays-gamble-goes-bust/article/2008383
Rowena Mason, “Theresa May’s leadership in the balance amid Tory election fury,” Guardian, June 8, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/09/theresa-may-leadership-in-balance-amid-tory-election-fury
British Broadcasting Corporation, “May to form ‘government of certainty’ with DUP backing,” June 9, 2017, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-40219030
Annabelle Dickson, “8 election blunders that cost Theresa May her majority,” Politico, June 9, 2017, http://www.politico.eu/article/theresa-may-election-mistakes/
Dominic Green, “How Theresa May Lost,” Weekly Standard, June 9, 2017, http://www.weeklystandard.com/how-theresa-may-lost/article/2008408
Paul Hannon, “Young Voters Flock to Labour, Spurning Theresa May’s Conservatives in U.K. Election,” Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/young-voters-flock-to-labour-denying-theresa-mays-conservatives-in-u-k-election-1497006858
Times of Israel, “Shock exit poll shows May losing majority in British elections,” June 9, 2017, http://www.timesofisrael.com/shock-exit-poll-shows-may-losing-majority-in-british-elections/
Sarah Wildman, “Iran was hit by a terrorist attack. Trump’s response was that they had it coming,” Vox, June 8, 2017, https://www.vox.com/world/2017/6/8/15759350/iran-terror-trump-presidential-response