Still in the Fog — War continues to Russia’s detriment

Still in the Fog

War continues to Russia’s detriment

March 29th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

While the usual caveats about “the fog of war” still apply (nothing said by either side is true until proven) there are some things we can determine from the actual evidence.

Putin’s dream of a quick blitzkrieg takeover of Ukraine is in tatters. The battle lines haven’t moved in over three weeks now, and there are reports that Ukraine has actually recovered small amounts of ground back in a couple of areas. While actual numbers are not available, it’s clear that the Russians have paid a very heavy price in terms of both personnel and materiel, and the Ukrainians have suffered large civilian losses, mostly from the wanton shelling and bombing of civilian centers.

Russia has lost at least ten thousand soldiers, including six generals. There are unconfirmed reports of large defections and desertions, and one confirmed report of a Russian colonel who was fragged by his own troops, apparently by being run over by a tank. Not subtle, these Russians.

Peace negotiations are expected to open in Istanbul in a couple of days, and it’s widely believed that Putin is seeking a compartmentalization of Ukraine, as was done in the 50s in Korea, or the 60s in Vietnam. DMZs, in other words, with Russia holding a strip of land linking them with Crimea, which they already stole. There’s no reason to suppose that would work out any better than previous DMZs did, unless Putin is prepared to following in the footsteps of the Kim dynasty of North Korea and inflict such horror and deprivation on the people in his region that they remain too weak and cowed to put up any real resistance. Granted, as we learned with the Chechnyans, Putin is quite willing to engage in ongoing domestic terrorism against the populace.

Putin claims Russian bombing and shelling campaigns against Kyiv and other cities in the north will abate, although neither the Ukrainian government nor the west are inclined to believe that. Putin has already suffered an embarrassing set-back; he may not want to risk looking weak in the bargain.

Biden came out and said of Putin, “This guy has to go.” He later explained that he meant exactly what he said, but that it did not reflect a formal change in policy. The media is trying to describe that as a backing away from the original statement and twittering about how undiplomatic it all is, as if America didn’t invent the expression “regime change” back in the 90s. Meanwhile, Donald Trump, the heart and soul of today’s GQP, suggested (and I’m not making this up) that America fly planes painted with Chinese markings into Russia and bomb them, in hopes of sparking a major war between the two major powers. Perhaps he’s hoping for lower land prices in both nations that he can exploit. And today—today!–he publicly asked Putin to drop whatever he was doing and dig up dirt on Hunter Biden. Aren’t you glad we got rid of that loon? One down, one to go.

Putin’s response? “It is time for us, for our people, to call on the people of the United States to change the regime in the U.S. early,” Russian TV host Evgeny Popov said, “And to again help our partner Trump to become president.” State TV being the bastion of independent journalism that it is, you know.

In the meantime, at least ten million civilians have been displaced in the Ukraine, with an estimated four to five million having fled the country altogether. The US has vowed to accept 100,000 refugees, and Canada has a three-year refugee status program with no limit on the number of refugees. The UK is offering £350/month to any household accepting refugees. While a welcome move, it’s unlikely to address the needs of more than about 10% of the refugees. Poland is taking the brunt of the exodus, and they are poorly equipped to handle it, and anti-Russian sentiment will only last so long as a buffer against Poland’s notoriously xenophobic culture.

And there’s also the possibility that the war will reduce one or both sides to pauperized failed states. Russia has been shown to be far weaker in terms of economy and morale than expected, and Ukraine is suffering bombardment the like of which Europe hasn’t seen since World War II. (American campaigns against Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq were far worse, of course, but the victims weren’t white, you know.)

One of the curious items is the reports that two negotiators in previous talks with Russia came down with symptoms consistent with novichok poisoning. The Guardian had a piece on this today, writing,

Guardian reporter based in Kyiv, Shaun Walker, brings us this analysis piece, asking: Why is Abramovich playing peacemaker after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

Sanctioned billionaire Roman Abramovich is not officially part of the Russian delegation, but has apparently played a major role behind the scenes, jetting between Moscow, Kyiv and Istanbul since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Further questions about what role Abramovich was playing, and why, were raised on Monday, when the Wall Street Journal and investigative outlet Bellingcat claimed Abramovich and a Ukrainian MP were among three people to fall ill with symptoms consistent with chemical poisoning, during a round of negotiations in Kyiv in early March.

A source confirmed to the Guardian that Abramovich had fallen ill after the meeting, and had lost his sight for several hours. He soon recovered and was able to take part in later rounds of negotiations.

Aside from the poisoning claims, the emergence of the publicity-shy oligarch at the heart of peace negotiations has also surprised many.”

The West has brought many sanctions to bear, many aimed at Russia’s plutocrats. Perhaps they are having an effect. Certainly Putin uses kompromat and extortion to control his billionaires (including, it’s rumored, Donald Trump) but that can only carry him so far in the face of ruin.

Biden is right: no matter what happens in Ukraine, this guy needs to go. He won’t stop with an eastern partition of Ukraine. You can take that to the bank.

Six Days — Countdown to the end of the Trump era

Six Days

Countdown to the end of the Trump era

January 14th 2021

Even without the attempted coup at the Capitol last week, everyone would be on tenterhooks right now. While the threat of any significant violence strikes me as overblown—Gravy Seals and Meal Team Sucks against 20,000 police, National Guard and the Army—there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that Donald Trump is engaged in what psychiatrists refer to as decompensation. That’s the utter breakdown of a world created by a neurotic and/or psychotic person in the face of implacable reality. Trump is learning, at the end, that he is not widely loved and admired, and his efforts to dominate and bully people is at an end. Not only that, but next week the last of his power vanishes, and he must account for his crimes. He has suffered humiliation after humiliation, from losing the election by a huge margin (and finally having to admit it, if only to himself) to his second impeachment, and the horror of most of the nation at his effort to violently overthrow the election.

Decompensation is a psychological crisis. It results in severe depression, psychotic rage, and a blind lashing out at enemies, real and imagined. It often results in suicide, violence, and/or unbridled acting out, often on the same level as the tantrum of a two-year old.

Case in point: Mike Pence was the most servile lickspittle of all of Trump’s administration. When Pence had to admit that he couldn’t carry out an impossible demand of somehow overturning the Electoral College vote, Trump sent the baying mob to hang Mike Pence. His own vice-president.

The danger signs are so clear and immediate that Congress and the armed forces have (hopefully) taken steps to neutralize some of the destruction a US President is normally capable of. At this hour, it’s not clear that the military will accept orders from their commander-in-chief. In an extraordinary communiqué, the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced they would not participate in any efforts by Trump to reverse the results of the election or prevent President-Elect Joe Biden from taking office.

Hopefully, that addresses another very real fear—that Trump might ignite a major war with Iran or perhaps China as an excuse to declare Martial Law and use that to try to maintain his role as President. Or provoke a domestic crisis (such as the attack on the Capitol) to the same end.

I’ve said for many years that Trump’s best features are his cowardice and his incompetence. He’s great at bullying people, but hopeless at managing them. He demands loyalty but offers none in return.

An amazing example of that trait is happening with the hapless Rudy Giuliani. After offering the barely-qualified Giuliani $20,000 an hour to represent him in court cases, he left it out that being dissatisfied with Rudy’s ability to win any court cases where there was no supporting evidence or even rationale, he wasn’t going to pay Rudy. This the same day he asked Giuliani to lead his legal team in his second impeachment trial in the Senate. (Honestly, I can’t believe I’m writing this stuff. My keyboard wants to crawl under my desk in shame. But it’s all real.)

Trump seems incapable of formulating a business plan, let alone a coherent policy for running a huge nation, and it’s no surprise to anyone familiar with his actual record as a businessman that he would be an utter and inept failure as a president. He doesn’t have the mental wherewithal or the emotional flexibility to deal with crises, even those that are self-generated. His utter inability to address the marches during the spring and summer, or the pandemic, are absolutely true to type. He never had to deal with the huge messes he created throughout his tawdry life from lack of discipline or intelligence, leaving those to an army of Michael Cohens, but as president he created messes too big and too immediate for anyone to brush away.

Having finally realized that he went too far in sending that mob to the Capitol, he gave a scathing denunciation of the violence and damage the mob caused. Trump has made a living out of pissing on people and telling them it’s holy water, but I doubt this particular mob is going to be too pleased, especially since hundreds of them are going to go to jail, branded as traitors, and the thousands more who did nothing worse than protest will be tarred with the same brush. I semi-joked the other day that Q was going to have to explain to his circus of freaks and psychotics that Donald Trump had sold out and joined the deep state conspiracy to destroy Donald Trump.

I’m cautiously optimistic that when President Joe Biden enters the Oval Office (possibly to find a large mound of Donald’s shit on the Resolute desk), it will be without major incident, and only a few inchoate demonstrations on the fringes of the military perimeter and around a few state Capitols.

As for Trump, he may be arrested the same day or at least detained on what we in California call a 5150; restrained because he presents a danger to himself and others. The Southern District of New York supposedly has a fire hose of criminal charges awaiting Trump. And that’s just the beginning.

That’s why Trump has been so desperate and so frightened that he’s willing to destroy the country to remain in office: he faces ruin and prison the minute he stops being President. I have no sympathy: it’s all self-inflicted, and he did immense damage to many people on the way.

If it weren’t for the knee-jerk servility Americans have toward any self-proclaimed successful capitalist, Trump would have never been anything other than a bad joke, in and out of prison on various scams and petty thefts. I doubt people in general will learn from his example, although the lesson is immediate: wealth does not equate to wisdom, honesty, or decency. It never has, and it never will.

In the end, Trump, by becoming President, showed the world what he really was.

And we’ll be paying for that for many years.

Welcome to the shit-show — Like Armageddon, except Jesus is the clown from “It”

Welcome to the shit-show

Like Armageddon, except Jesus is the clown from “It”

March 24th 2020

Trump wants to end the coronavirus crisis by Easter. That’s always a nice time of year here in the northern latitudes—spring is finally really asserting itself over winter, all the trees are budding, grass is greening, daffodils are waiting to be crushed by the rogue April snow storm. Christians liked it so much they made it the most important day on their calendar.

Now, it’s one thing to offer hope in a time of crisis. Just this morning I told the fellow down at my local grocery story that I thought we might get a half-season of baseball this year, with opening day on the Fourth of July. I don’t have a shred of evidence to support that, aside from a historical tendency of plagues to fade out after about six months, and we’re now in month three. But it cheered the guy up a bit (being a store clerk right now isn’t much fun) and what the hell—I felt a little bit better by saying it, too.

But here’s the thing; I don’t have the power to order baseball to reopen on a specific date, and I wouldn’t even if I had that power. And if an epidemiologist heard me talking to the clerk, he might suggest that I was being a tad optimistic and suggest that baseball wait until summer solstice before making that sort of decision.

If I said baseball should open up for the season on April 12th, he would tell me I would get thousands of people killed, and I was being reckless even suggesting it.

There isn’t an epidemiologist in the country that thinks dropping social distancing and resuming business as usual in just 18 days would be anything short of catastrophic. If the United States is very, very lucky, we might be showing signs of flattening the curve by then. On our present course, which is still accelerating, by April 12th we may have 1.2 million cases, and between 10 and 20 thousand dead. Sorry to scare anyone, but those are the numbers. It’s bad, it’s going to get a lot worse.

That’s even if Americans do batten down and avoid social contact as much as possible from now on. Between lack of test to get an idea of where the disease is or how far it’s spread, and the deliberate refusal by Trumpkins to observe such precautions (many of them still believe it’s all a liberal Democratic plot to hurt Trump) those are the optimistic numbers, the ones that assume everyone will exercise caution and common sense, and in two weeks the curve may begin to flatten.

What I expect to see by April 12th is that things will be at the point where nearly everyone in the country at least knows someone who has caught the disease, and a significant number know someone who is dead or in a weeks-long struggle to live from the disease. By then, even some of the Trumpkins will realize that going back to work is tantamount to a death sentence, and that the only reason Trump is trying to order them back is because some of his billionaire friends are in danger of becoming millionaires. Not all of them—Trump worship is a cult, in its worst form as bad as Jonestown, and we all remember what happened there. Some Trumpkins will die for Trump, because it will SO annoy the libruls. There was even an image of two MAGAts licking a New York Subway turnstile, which they put on line as a way of “sticking it to the libs”.

Unfortunately, it’s a part of human nature. Today’s Gallup poll showed Trump’s approval rating at 49%, and his disapproval rating at 42%–the first time since he took office that his approval rating wasn’t underwater. When people are frightened, they flock to the safety of an authority figure. They want Big Daddy to save them from the vicious noseeums that are so threatening. This is well known, not just to elderly curmudgeons such as myself, but to any competent social psychologist.

Trump is what is known as a Charismatic Authority. Until now, he wasn’t a very good one, only able to command a relatively small fraction of the population through propaganda that he, and they, were targeted and victimized by others, such as liberals, blacks, Mexicans and Moslems. His crises had been all invented, and rather transparently so. Now that a real crisis has arisen, his power to manipulate has grown exponentially.

Charismatic authorities have always come out during crises: some, such as Winston Churchill or FDR, were benign. Others, such as Stalin, Mao, and Hitler, were not.

While Trump is not an intelligent or empathetic man, that does not mean he is not a crafty predator, and he has realized this crisis will work to his advantage. Charismatic authorities feed off crises. He’s already pressed during this one to have Congress give him a half a trillion dollars to spend as he sees fit, without having to account to anyone or even explain where the money went.

Oh, I’m sure he’ll donate it all to charity. That’s just the type of guy he is, right?

No, more than likely that money would make the Trump family an unmovable and insurmountable dictatorship that would afflict Americans for generations to come.

Crises are essential. Hitler, Mao and Stalin not only arose in times of crisis, but maintained states of crises throughout their bloody reigns. Hitler’s proved so catastrophic to his followers that his public adulation only began to fade in early 1945, when it was obvious that Germany was to be destroyed. Stalin and Mao had policies that killed millions, but upon their deaths, the unfeigned mourning and bereavement their respective lands was immense. Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn, then serving a ten year term for Anti-Soviet Agitation, wrote of the utter tearful loss and desolation amongst the prisoners, many of whom were as capriciously imprisoned as he, upon the death of “Uncle Joe.” Charismatic leaders create crises upon which they thrive.

This may explain why Trump wants to reopen the country April 12th. Not just to support his business buddies, but to maximize the crisis. As long as he has scapegoats to shift blame for, he can cause the deaths of tens of millions of Americans—and it will work to his advantage.

Just as Pennywise benefited from the fear caused in Derry by missing children, Trump benefits from a plague that he didn’t cause and need only pretend to be fighting. It’s in his best interest for the disease to keep expanding.

End Game – It’s us or him

December 21st 2018

Even by the vicious, arbitrary, capricious and sometimes insane standards of the Trump administration, the past 48 hours were beyond belief.

First, there was the Michael Flynn sentencing. Judge Emmett Sullivan was expected to give the seditious and disgraced General a slap on the wrist as a result of supposedly very valuable evidence provided to the special council’s office in relation to Trump and Russia. But Flynn, whose common sense is the equal of his sense of loyalty to his country, ran his mouth to the press, whining that the FBI fooled him into thinking it was OK to lie to them because he thought the 11 separate interviews they hauled him in for were just friendly chats. Koffee Klatches. They talked about the latest Vogue magazine, you know. Just more proof the FBI was evil. Sullivan’s patience snapped, and he let Flynn know just how big a pile of human shit he really is, delayed sentencing, and let it be known if he spread any more right wing bullshit, he would be treated as a near-traitor.

That happened just a day after California Congresswoman Jackie Spier penned an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle titled, “Did Putin Buy Donald Trump?” She didn’t actually use either the word “traitor” or “kompromat,” but the concepts were definitely intrinsic to her narrative.

So now even the mainstream press is starting to use the word “treason” in relation to Trump. It’s about time.

Trump made Spier’s case for her by suddenly and unilaterally announcing that all troops would be pulled out of Syria, a sudden action that betrayed the Kurds (again) and no doubt delighted Putin. Make no mistake: I’ve argued for pulling troops out of Syria right along, but I don’t for an instant believe that Trump went about it the way he did because he gave a shit about the troops, let alone the Syrians who are dying by the thousands. He did it because Putin wanted him to. And time is running out for him to do stuff like that.

This in turn caused Jim Mattis to quit in disgust. No flowery language about it being an honor and privilege to serve Trump; just a letter that boiled down to, “I can’t help you, get yourself a defense secretary who will do your bidding.” I used to joke about how it came to be that the only adult in the Trump administration, the sane thoughtful one, was known as “Mad Dog” but that Mad Dog might be one of the very few to leave that benighted administration with his reputation as an adult and an American still intact.

It is scary to contemplate Trump’s foreign policy now that his only remaining advisor is John Bolton.

Then Trump blew up the Continuing Resolution. This was a kick-the-can-down-the-road measure to keep the government running while the ludicrous impasse over the Wall continued. Nothing too unusual there: it’s been pretty much what passes for Republican governance since 1993. They love America but hate the United States, and don’t want to pay for anything other than a big military and an economy that consists mostly in the form of raping the workers. So they’ve been running government by extortion, whittling down any stake Americans might have in their own country.

Trump, apparently upset that such intellectual luminaries as Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh no longer loved him, changed his mind after most of Congress had left for their indeterminable vacations, so the government will have a partial shutdown at least until January 10th. It will cost billions, and Trump should reflect on the fact that the Secret Service agents following him won’t be getting paychecks for Christmas.

Even the most stupid mob boss knows you gotta pay your muscle. But then, Trump is extraordinarily stupid.

The stock market is showing signs of a possible crash, having lost 4,000 points this past month. Investors are no longer confident we will survive Trump. That’s not a very comfortable thought.

Then there is the Whitaker thing. The swindler-turned-top-cop had a Department of Justice board of unknown parties say he was not required to recuse himself in the Mueller investigation, then they put out another statement an hour later saying he was supposed to recuse himself, and then an hour after that Whitaker said he was going to disregard the advice to recuse himself.

Kremlin watchers thought as of yesterday that Rosenstein was still overseeing the investigation, since Whitaker didn’t want to go to jail for obstruction, but was acting on the QT since if he did recuse himself, he would get the Jeff Sessions treatment. Now nobody knows that the hell is going on. In some ways, that’s the most terrifying development of all, since it smells like Trump is preparing to purge Mueller’s ass.

Finally, there was the Trump Foundation. A judge shut it down, effectively labeling it a criminal enterprise. I had to shake my head at the wonder of it all. Remember all those Republicans who prattled on endlessly about the Clinton Foundation because it took money (legally) from foreign concerns. For all the huffing, they couldn’t find any quid pro quo, unless you count the ridiculous conspiracy theory about the Canadian government selling uranium to Russia. (Would Trump hesitate to give Russia uranium if Putin asked him for it?). Are they apoplectic in rage over the open criminality of the Trump Foundation?

Hmm. Apparently not. Like cheating on wives or banging porn stars or blowing up the deficit or bombing kids in other countries, or screwing kids domestically, it’s only bad if Democrats are accused of it.

The people who worked directly for Trump aren’t the only ones who trashed their reputations; any Republican who whined endlessly about the Clinton/Obama “scandals” and is silent now can expect decades to pass before anyone wants to hear their thoughts on much of anything again.

Meanwhile, the country is now in deep crisis, and when Congress returns, it may have to put aside the budget and the wall and all that, and drive Trump from office.

It’s him or us.

Election 2018 – And its possible aftermath

November 5th, 2018

It has been brought to my attention that there is some sort of election thingie tomorrow. An unkempt person, disheveled with wild, wide eyes and arms failing in futile violence, screamed at me that the entire future of humanity rested on this election, and that I must implore everyone to vote right away!

I really have to get rid of that mirror. Nobody likes bad-news mirrors, and you don’t even have to be an evil narcissist to have one seriously fuck you up.

There will be no vote imploring from me. If you haven’t decided if you are going to vote or not, you probably aren’t reading this, and are too dumb and apathetic to be reading much of anything more involved than the directions on how to make a grilled cheese sandwich.

For the rest of you, yes, quite a bit rests on this election. However, the rest of the world, should America fall, will simply close ranks and go around the former world leader. Yes, America is mighty militarily, but it still needs to engage and trade with the rest of the world in order to survive.

Trump is not a negotiator. For starters, he announces up front that he plans to screw the people he’s negotiating with, which deincentivizes those people from negotiations. Would you buy a car from a guy who tells you he has the best profit margins from car sales in the state? If you would, call me: have I got a sweet deal for you! Well, a sweet deal for one of us, anyway. You like sweet deals, right?

Trump boasts himself into corners. Take NAFTA. After announcing he was going to shaft Canada, he was dismayed when Canadians turned down his polite offer to be shafted. Having boasted he could swing a great deal by pressuring Canada, he threatened the Canadian auto industry, which consists of such Canadian enterprises as Ford and GM. Turned out he lost the support of the very people he was trying to protect from those evil Canucks, Ford and GM. Cornered by his own bombast, he finally signed a deal with Canada in which America actually made more concession, because Trump desperately needed an agreement he could lie about and proclaim to be a great victory for Trump America. In poker terms, Canada had a pair, and Trump had a busted flush, and Canada walked away with the pot, leaving Trump to scream that his hand was a lot closer to a real flush than a lousy pair!

Most of the world looks at Trump with a mixture of sadness and apprehension. He’s a pathetic clown, but he is a very troublesome pathetic clown, and what’s more, he is greatly strengthening the hands of other players in the game who are not clowns: China and Russia.

So as Americans vote, American prestige and influence, already plummeting, might go past the point of no return. If it does, that means a lot of problems for a lot of people, but in the end the world will carry on, they way it did following the fall of every other mighty empire.

In a best case scenario, the Democrats take the House, and Trump is in prison by 2020. That won’t solve the problem of Republicans in general, a party gone mad, but it will pin their ears back some. Worst case scenario, Republicans keep the House and Senate, and only the most naive or the most cynical Republican supporters believe America will have anything in common with the America of 25 years ago. Oh, America will still have an election in 2020, but it will be about as relevant as the elections they used to have in the Soviet Union.

The elections won’t save America, and could seal America’s fate. It’s not a great choice, but it’s probably the last best chance most people will get to have a choice.

Just remember that when you wake up on Wednesday, Trump will still be in the Oval Office. Republicans will still control congress, and will have two months to try and entrench as much of their toxic fascist agenda as possible. The Supreme Court will still consist of four liberals, four fascists, and a GOP ratfucker. November 7th will not be rainbows and butterflies, and the real fighting may just be starting.

The other day I wrote about an article by Stephen Marche on a respected blog in Canada speculating on what Canada should do in the event of an American civil war. It was a jarring thing to see.

CBC radio, the heart of journalist decorum and restraint, had a lead story referencing Marche under the headline, “What should Canada do if there’s a civil war in the U.S.?” This is the CBC, which probably started its September 1st 1939 broadcast with something like, “There appears to have been a spot of bother in Poland today as Chancellor Hitler continues to behave in an impolite manner.” They aren’t given to frantic arm waving, or, being non-profit, overly obsessed with ratings and clicks. Such a headline would be unthinkable unless they seriously believed that a civil war or other forms of violent chaos was truly in the offing for the United States.

Despite Trump, Canada remains the closest thing to a friend the United States has. If a friend tells you you look very ill and ought to see a doctor, you should at least consider the advice.

I’m not sure such a calamity can be sidestepped. But all sane Americans need to be aware of the danger, and think hard on how it might be averted. Despite what the history books say, nobody ever wins those types of battles.

Trump Bumps — His Road to Ruin is not a Smooth Ride

August 12th, 2018

Despite the obvious peril and potential for great harm to the nation and the world, it’s enjoyable watching Trump continue to personally disintegrate as all his crimes and disgraceful behavior catch up to him. But make no mistake: it’s a very dangerous time.

The nation has been here before. Nixon, of course, but before that, as well. In 1932 FDR and the Democrats won the election by vast margins, but the nation was on the verge of collapse, and it would be a full four months before FDR and the Democrats assumed control. In the meantime, Herbert Hoover and the Republicans, ideologically incapable of addressing the Great Depression, were in control, and persuing the same destructive policies that had served them and the nation so poorly over the past 3+ years. Hoover was not a villain, not insane, and not heedless of the destruction that was driving the country into a morass. In desperation, at one point he offered FDR a “copresidency” to work through to the day, still months off, when FDR would be inaugurated. FDR sensed a trap, or at least a no-win situation, and declined. The country writhed in agony.

By the time FDR did take office, a third of the banks were shuttered, a dozen states were using script because US currency was no longer trusted, and unemployment was over 30% and starvation was widespread.

The political situation caused by the long gap between the election and inauguration was so dire that a Constitutional Amendment (20th) was passed, making the inauguration the twentieth of January, and the convening of the new Congress even earlier, January 3rd. Never again, it was resolved, would the country go through a slow-motion hanging as it did during the winter of 1932-33.

When Nixon fell, the denouement, after two years of investigations, was relatively rapid. Despite the sense of crisis, the country sensed that Congress would do its job if required, and the Court would rule in the national interest. When the Supreme Court did rule, 8-0, that he must release the tapes, Congressional leaders went to Nixon and told him he no longer had any hope of avoiding impeachment and conviction, and a few days after that, he was gone.

The moral rot in the GOP began in 1964 when the right wing first seized control of the party, making it the party of the loony John Birchers. Four years later, and Nixon embraced the bigots and aggrieved whites of the South, the infamous “southern strategy” which put the party on a pernicious path of ongoing public deception. So both fiscally and socially, the party had to put false faces on their true aims, hiding designs on the public treasury behind false concerns about ‘big government’ and ‘fiscal responsibility’ (and they went on to triple the size of the federal government and are responsible for nine out of every ten dollars in the national debt), and hiding their racist and authoritarian aims behind fake patriotism, fake religion, and loud claims that anyone who opposed them was socialist, if not disloyal.

It was a toxic stew even before it embraced the loony fundamentalist movement under Reagan, and the belief that the law existed to harass and persecute non-Republicans under Newt Gingrich.

It explains why Trump came to be the presidential candidate for the GOP, and why the party is utterly supine in the face of his obviously disastrous presidency. He is their Frankenstein’s monster, and like the doctor, they have lost control of their creation.

During the Hoover crisis, Hoover was a decent man trapped in an impossible situation, locked in by the always-destined-to-fail policies of Wall Street. He went on to serve the country honorably after the war and redeemed himself. Nixon may have had little interest in the welfare of the citizenry, and his patriotism is certainly open to question, but Republicans, at least, realized his position was untenable, and they needed to do the right thing, if only to save their own asses.

The safeguards that saved us in 1933 and in 1974 aren’t there. Republicans, trapped between voracious plutocrats who sense a change to make America their own private property, and the toxic little authoritarians of the trash right who want to make America a racist theocracy, can’t move without risking an eruption and rebellion by their base. The Supreme Court is compromised, and stands to be a plaything for fascists if the Republicans ram through the Kavanaugh nomination. And of course, Trump is completely amoral, and may not be intellectually or emotionally capable of knowing when he has lost, and decide to pull everything down around with him, a Samson-smash, a bid for failed glory.

Still, it’s not hopeless. The “Unite the Right” movement has failed so utterly that even Trump worked up the courage today to condemn Nazis. The huge demonstration in Washington attracted only a few dozen—and thousands of anti-fascist counter demonstrators.

Trump needs extremes and extremists to promote himself. His entire political career is modeled, after all, on “New World Order” by A. Hitler. Obviously America isn’t ready for Nazism.

He needs plutocrats, and they need him only if they profit, and dismay at his economic policies is growing rapidly as trade wars and increasing tensions work to isolate and ruin America financially.

Still, for America, that is not a good solution. After all, if plutocrats and the trash right turn on Trump and destroy him, it leaves the country beholden to the same groups that created him in the first place.

Best answer: the people must vote in November, and drive the Republicans far from the reins of power, and reinstate democratic freedoms and sanity.

 

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