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Will Trump’s presidency survive?

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So far, President Trump has gone through a Chief of Staff, Press Secretary, two Communications Directors (Spicer counts, along with Scaramucci’s disastrous 11 days), a National Security Adviser, an FBI Director, nearly an Attorney General (the jury is still out), a Homeland Security Director (he tapped the serving one to be the new CoS) and a Chief Strategist. He’s been in office just over 200 days.

This pace of turnover is completely unsustainable.

No large organization could long survive this kind of turmoil, and the United States requires, above all, stability. Free countries look to America for stability in a world filled with Venezuelas, Syrias and Brexits. America under Trump is not stable.

Trump’s presidency is based on about 25 percent of Americans who love him no matter what he does. It’s based on constant entertainment, lots of light with no heat–or heat without light depending on how you look at things. A Republican Congress, under Trump, has been able to do nearly nothing besides appoint a new Supreme Court Justice. Great: Neil Gorsuch is wonderful, but not enough.

Rex Tillerson, James Mattis and Vice President Mike Pence have spent the last six months traveling the world (but not at the same time–someone has to mind the Romper Room Oval Office) cleaning up Trump’s Twitter-diarrheic messes. Tillerson has unfilled posts at the State Department that Steve Bannon blocked because he the candidates didn’t pass his dogmatic filter.

Now Bannon is gone, along with Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer. The White House is run by Trump, his family and a couple of four-star generals. I trust the generals–mostly.

Either some discipline will be instilled, or Trump’s presidency is in danger. It’s not necessarily in danger from impeachment, because they’d have to find something impeachable. Congress does have the Constitutional authority to impeach for whatever reason it wants, but it doesn’t have the political backing to do it.

I haven’t looked at numbers, but I’d be willing to bet that the polarized elements of the American polity were just as polarized under Presidents Obama and Bush 43 as they are now. I’d bet that about 25 percent of Americans would have supported Barack Obama if he had murdered someone in the street, and another 25 percent opposed him no matter what he did. With the exception of a six month period after 9/11, I think the same thing about George W. Bush.

But Trump has made the polarization so much worse. Were Congress to attempt to impeach him, I believe violence would erupt.

So where does that leave us?

The over/under

Some of the writers here and myself have had a discussion of where things might go from here. Jesse Broadt has written her own piece calling for Trump’s removal under the 25th Amendment, section 4. That’s certainly a possibility, but again, it takes 2/3 of Congress to ratify.

Here’s our take.

Paige Rogers:

I walked out of the voting booth and, as I was walking to my car I kept thinking, “This is the 1st time I’ve voted and not been excited about it.”

I think America would end up in a civil war if Trump were to be removed, and maybe even if he we’re to resign on his own accord. Regular people became so disenchanted [and unfortunately, were sometimes disenfranchised] by the time Obama’s 2nd term ended. A vote is a vote and I think it should stand, bc I’d like for our Democratic process to remain intact. I am praying for our country and all our leaders!

Eric Dixon:

Trump is a stubborn and iconoclastic man who will be determined to prove his detractors wrong. He is capable of having (and likely to have) isolated but significant successes. 

In fact, Trump’s presidential political trajectory (if not his philosophy or temperament) can follow Ronald Reagan’s. Reagan’s approval ratings dove early in his first term as the economy fell back into recession in 1982-83, and his re-election was in great doubt going into the summer of 1984. Likewise, if Trump gets his troubles “out of the way” early in his first term, he has plenty of room — and plenty of time — to recover to a point where he can rehabilitate his presidency and his re-election prospects. I think he will serve a full term. 

A full second term. 

Dan Alexander:

I think he will serve the full first term, unfortunately. Then, sensing his own demise in the 2020 campaign, he will not seek re-election. I think he would rather step down than suffer a loss. 

Jeremy Frankel:

To be honest at that point I was sort of warmed up to Trump and was very happy about my vote because how scared I was of Hillary. I don’t regret my vote but I was pretty upset that he was the best choice there.

I do still reiterate that it seems that the one thing people fear more than Trump is the Left and the media (Hence many conservative voters). Which is why his base hasn’t shrunk much at all, throughout all the chaos.

Me:

I don’t think Trump can change. I don’t think the country can suffer him for 3 1/2 more years. The immovable object will continue to resist the unstoppable force.

I believe Trump will realize that the government cannot work with him as its leader. Congress will cease to function as a lawmaking body. The executive branch will cease to function in any capacity other than a administrative factotum.

Other nations will take advantage of American instability. We may find ourselves in an unintentional, limited but intense war. We might find ourselves withdrawing like cowards in the face of much weaker nations.

In the end, I believe Trump will resign, simply because being president will not be an enjoyable or uplifting experience any longer. The rallies will cease to be a salve for his ego. He will be alone, isolated, and unable to focus on anything but his many enemies.

He never wanted to win anyway.

Some closing thoughts

Eric Dixon supplied some happy thoughts for the weekend at the close of what’s been a terrible, awful, tumultuous week full of death and uncertainty. We could use some sunshine.

I don’t think the nation is past a tipping point.

Why? Consider what the vast majority of Americans, of all backgrounds, are doing this weekend.

They’re not thinking about Charlottesville, statues of dead men or Steve Bannon.

They’re thinking about vacations, going to the beach, a NASCAR race or the upcoming football season.

Plenty of young people are thinking about…how can I say this delicately?…reproduction. 

The supermarkets are full, gasoline is half the price it was in 2008, electricity is plentiful (and often cheaper than it used to be), the Internet is running, half the country has smartphones.

Trump could resign tonight, and none of the above will change. 

These are all signs of a confident, content — if somewhat under-informed — people, aren’t they?

Culture and Religion

Elizabeth Warren releases DNA proof that she’s at least 1/1024th Native American. Twitter responds appropriately.

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Elizabeth Warren releases DNA proof that shes at least 11024th Native American Twitter responds appr

There’s a strategist in Senator Elizabeth Warren’s ear who thought it was a good idea to release results of a DNA test showing a likelihood that one of her very distant descendants was Native American. The advice taken. The results were predictable.

The test shows she is at most 1/32nd Native American if she is six generations from her Native American ancestor. That’s her best-case scenario. At worst, her ancestor was as far back as ten generations which would make her 1/1024th Native American. To put that into perspective, if she were to honor her heritage by engaging in 1/1024th of a four-hour Native American Sweat, she’d be in and out of the lodge in 14 seconds.

Elizabeth Warren releases results of DNA test on Native American ancesty

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2018/10/15/warren-addresses-native-american-issue/YEUaGzsefB0gPBe2AbmSVO/story.htmlThe inherent imprecision of the six-page DNA analysis could provide fodder for Warren’s critics. If her great-great-great-grandmother was Native American, that puts her at 1/32nd American Indian. But the report includes the possibility that she’s just 1/1024th Native American if the ancestor is 10 generations back.

Undergoing the test and releasing the results reveal how seriously Warren is taking the attacks from Trump, who has been able to effectively caricature and diminish his national foes via nicknames and conspiracy theories. Trump pushed then President Barack Obama into releasing the long form of his birth certificate to prove what most knew was already true: He was born in America.

This publicity stunt was designed to let everyone know she’s serious about running for President in 2020. She wanted to be able to call out President Trump on his promise to give $1,000,000 to charity if she could prove Native American heritage. He won’t pay, of course, which will get plenty of headlines calling him a deal-breaking scoundrel, but was it really if for her to be the focus of even more jokes on social media?

Here are some of the reactions on Twitter. You decide:

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Foreign Affairs

President dispatches Pompeo after talking to Saudi King

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President dispatches Pompeo after talking to Saudi King

President Trump is sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia to discuss the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Turkey claims to have ample evidence that the Saudis murdered Khashoggi at their consulate in Istanbul.

The situation is tense as pressure mounts for actions to be taken against Saudi Arabia. The Saudis fired back with threats of their own if such actions are taken. All of this is happening against a backdrop of increased engagement between Saudi Arabia and the United States as they work to put together a Middle East peace agreement.

Turkey claims to have a recording of Khashoggi’s murder captured on his Apple Watch. They also have the identities of a 15-man “kill team” that was allegedly sent to the consulate to capture and torture Khashoggi. Video shows him going into the consulate with his fiancee remaining outside, but no footage has been released of him leaving the consulate and his fiancee hasn’t seen him since. Turkey claims Saudi Arabia has sufficient surveillance cameras at the consulate that could prove he left, but the Saudis claim the equipment was not recording during his visit.

My Take

The White House is trying to sweep this under the rug. As obtuse as the Saudi government has been for decades, their strategic and economic importance to the United States is great. The last thing the White House wants is to be forced to choose between their close ally and public outcry, most of which is demanding repercussions in light of the alleged evidence.

Turkey has been adamant that their theory is correct.

At some point, we’re going to have to cut ties with Saudi Arabia unless drastic changes are made. Changes are underway, but they seem too slow to compensate for the backwards nature of the country. It’s time to just cut them loose now.

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Guns and Crime

Why isn’t Katie Brennan’s #MeToo accusation getting national attention?

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It’s the type of story that should have received national attention immediately. It was sourced by a respected major news outlet, the Wall Street Journal. Both the accuser and the accused are high-ranking public official in New Jersey’s government. The accused stepped down two weeks ago when approached by WSJ for comment. Katie Brennan’s story is a major newsworthy scandal.

As of Monday morning, a day after the story officially broke and four days after it was leaked to other major news outlets, both mainstream media and the #MeToo movement are essentially silent.

That will change soon, possibly today. Brennan, a prominent volunteer for Phil Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign and current Chief of Staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, released this statement:

On April 8th, 2017, Al Alvarez raped me. On April 9th, 2017 I learned that the system is broken.

I have pursued every form of justice available. But it has become clear that this system is not built for survivors.

The details of the assault portrayed in reporter Kate King’s Wall Street Journal report published today are accurate. But to date, I have received no justice.

I decided to come forward because I know that Al Alvarez, and all perpetrators, must be held accountable, must never rape again, and the justice system needs a complete change with regard to sexual violence.

New Jersey residents are only given a two-year window to file a civil suit. After spending an entire year pursuing a criminal case before hitting a dead end, I am left with less than one year to pursue civil action.

It is clear that leadership from the Murphy administration is needed to create meaningful policy change on several levels to make sure future victims do not have to endure what I have. I urge Gov. Murphy and the Attorney General’s Office to eliminate the statute of limitations on civil action related to sexual assault, and to direct prosecutors to be more aggressive in taking on these criminal cases. Further, the Murphy administration and the General Assembly should pursue legislation to ensure New Jersey’s police and other first responders are better trained to handle sexual assault victims.

Finally, sexual predators like Al Alvarez are only able to stay in power when those around them do nothing. Several senior level members of the Murphy administration were aware of my assault and failed to take meaningful action. Al Alvarez remained employed at a senior level in the Murphy administration until just a few weeks ago, when he knew the Wall Street Journal article was coming out and opted to resign. The failure of members of Gov. Murphy’s staff to respond in an aggressive, proactive fashion is unacceptable.

To other sexual assault survivors in New Jersey, I urge you to join me in coming forward if you are able. I will stand with you, because when we stand together, we are safer and stronger. Our voice is our power. Together, we can finally receive the justice we all deserve.

Murphy has not commented other than saying Alvarez should not have been hired. He was made aware of a “sensitive matter” that needed to be discussed by Brennan in June and claimed his staff would set up a meeting. That was the last Brennan heard from Murphy.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s handling of aide sex assault allegation questioned

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/new-jersey/governor/2018/10/14/murphys-handling-sexual-assault-allegation-called-into-question/1642517002/His accuser, Katie Brennan, was a Murphy campaign volunteer who said she spent more than a year seeking action against Alvarez for the alleged sexual assault before directly emailing Phil and Tammy Murphy in June. Phil Murphy responded within the hour, according to the Journal.

“Hang in,” he wrote. “We are on it.”

But Alvarez remained in his $140,000-a-year position until October. The alleged assault happened in April 2017.

Standards set by the #MeToo movement dictate that credible accusations should be believed. Brennan appears to be extremely credible, having reported her rape immediately after it allegedly occurred. Alvarez offered a $15,000 settlement that would have been attached to a non-disclosure agreement, which Brennan refused.

Where is MSNBC? Where is CNN? Where is Alyssa Milano?

Social media is starting to take notice. In particular, they’re going after Murphy and his wife for speaking out in support of Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh.

Katie Brennan

My Take

I am a strong proponent for what the #MeToo movement once promoted and how it started. The original intent was to embolden women who had experienced sexual misconduct at the hands of men in power over them. The goal was to give courage to those who were in very tough situations.

Recently, the #MeToo movement has been weaponized. I’m not going to draw comparisons between accusations against Kavanaugh and Alvarez. That would be unfair to Ford since Brennan’s accusations against Alvarez are much more recent and have the benefit of an immediate report to the authorities. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that as of now, either the story hasn’t reached the right people or the right people have chosen to ignore it.

We can’t let them.

It’s not as if this is a political hit job against Democrats. Brennan’s image was used in Murphy’s campaign handouts and she was outspoken as a “Young Democrat of the Week” in New Jersey as a result.

Katie Brennan NJ Democrat

I don’t like when something as heinous as rape gets politicized, but silence from mainstream media and the #MeToo movement is deafening. Would they be avoiding the story if Brennan had accused a Republican?

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