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variety – thoughts on national politics – 20180908

September 8, 2018

Gonna shoot off another light/quick post here.

Topics: McCain, NYT Op-Ed by anonymous White House anti-Trumper , 25th Amendment, polls

McCain – Finally, the end of the weeklong McCain funeral ceremonies. Complete with flag-waving bipartisan (Obama! AOC!) adulation of this reflexive militarist / cheerleader for I think every single regrettable foreign policy adventure the US had during his time in office (1982 onwards). So much for that.

NYT Op-Ed – There was the New York Times op-ed in which an anonymous “senior official” from the Trump Administration, writing from a deeply conservative political position, described a resistance-from-within, and wrote a sort of call-to-arms for others to do the same.

That this exists is kindof obvious already (i.e, DOJ investigations, foreign policy handled by military “caretakers”). The big news is that the NYT published it (and implicitly endorsed the deeply conservative view of the author). The part about the author being anonymous is fine by me. The choice to publish is the surprising part.

The actual text was just a regurgitation of the past 1.5 years of talking points. Honestly it reads as if it were ghost-written by a particularly un-creative committee. Of course it tries to cash in on the McCain wave of patriotism.

25th Amendment – Also mentioned in the above op-ed, as well as by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (whom I like) – use of the 25th Amendment (section 4) to remove Trump due to his inability to carry out his duties. On the issue of Trump’s unfitness, I don’t disagree – I think anyone using Twitter qualifies for this. However, if we’re going to be honest, we could make historical comparisons of senility or stupidity with Reagan and Bush Jr.

More importantly, just so that we are all on the same page, let’s understand that the relevant part of the 25th Amendment requires a much higher threshold of support than  even impeachment. Namely, the support of:

  • the Vice President
    • who should be even scarier to Trump’s Democratic opponents than Trump himself
  • a majority of Trump’s Cabinet
    • a corrupt lot of Republican-big-business and MIC folk who got everything they wished for so far, and can probably think of more things that Trump will let them have, AND take the blame for in their place
  • 2/3 of both the House and Senate are required if the president does not agree with the VP and cabinet’s decision to remove him.
    • That will only happen if: (a) Trump is physically unable to communicate, comatose or similar. (b) Trump is magically cured of his narcissism and decides to accept the decision of the VP – this would effectively be agreeing to a resignation, for which the 25th Amendment (section 4) process isn’t necessary at all.

Furthermore, pursuing this more burdensome path of removing Trump doesn’t really show confidence in the premise of impeachment, which is that Trump committed a crime big enough to invalidate his election.

Actual text of the 25th Amendment [Cornell Law Archive]

Article on the intent behind the 25th Amendment [Politico] .  Notable excerpt:

But the burden of the congressional commentary was to conclude, as Feerick wrote, that “unpopularity, incompetence, impeachable conduct, poor judgment, and laziness [did] not constitute an ‘inability’ within the meanings of the amendment.”

Section 4 … applied during such serious situations as “loss of consciousness,” “significant alterations of the president’s cognitive faculties or inability to communicate,” “serious injury to the president following an accident or attack on his person,” “terminal illness,” and “progressive, mentally disabling conditions.” 

But in any case, debate about the intent of the 25th Amendment’s drafters is moot, because 2/3 of both houses of Congress are effectively required. This detail is omitted from the politico article.

Polls – Democrats are looking likely to gain a tight (10-20 seats) majority of seats in the House. This will position the “Blue Dog” caucus (i.e., conservative Democrats) as the swing votes. Trump’s approval rating continues its remarkable resilience, bottoming out at around 40% early on last year and pretty much steady ever since despite every conceivable scandal. A great many voters just do not give a flip.

A variety of stats are here:   Note that 538 does considerable processing (adjustment) of the raw data, with an emphasis on accurately picking up shorter term changes in trend. Also, availability of polling data for individual house races is surprisingly thin, even among just the “toss-ups”. We have to rely very heavily on the nationwide “generic congressional ballot” poll data.

NY State – Vote Sept 13th!!!! Primary election for statewide offices.


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