Sex and Old People
INTERESTING STUFF – 13 May 2017

The Importance of the Comey Firing

If, earlier this week, the friend to whom I said I believe the U.S. is in the midst of a slow-moving coup had called me out for being hyperbolic, I would not have disagreed. That is, until I ran across this nearly identical headline at Salon:

Americans are witnessing a slow motion coup.

The article is written by journalist, novelist and screenwriter, Lucien K. Truscott IV who has covered some of the biggest news stories of our lifetimes, here and abroad. (Disclosure: I knew him slightly half a century or so ago when we were both starting out.) I'll get back to his Salon piece shortly.

There hasn't been much in these pages about the dying of American democracy because who can keep up. Any one person could write 24 hours a day, seven days a week and not cover all the outrages being inflicted almost daily by the president and the Republican Congress upon the citizens of the United States.

Besides, plenty of other people - in print, online and on TV - have more than enough to say - too much of it unhelpful and even wrong. And it is not within the mandate (see banner above) of this blog.

Even with all that, this week's firing of FBI Director James Comey, the fact of it along with the shameful haste, lies and crudeness with which it was done, is unprecedented. In the 240 years of our country's history, it has happened only once before that a president fired the person investigating his own election campaign.

Comey

Some reporters are making the comparison to President Richard Nixon's “Saturday night massacre” and that is not inapt. What is different for me and for people who are older than about 55 now is that we were there in real time.

For nearly a year, we lived through the daily dispatches from Woodward and Burnstein, became familiar with Deep Throat's leaks and followed the accusations and denials that pretty much unhinged the country for nearly a year.

When, at last, Nixon resigned, you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief of millions of citizens throughout the land. It was an unprecedented moment in our history.

And so is this one.

For all the millions of words already spoken and written about the Comey firing, what appears to me to be most true is that the letters the White House released were outright lies. It is becoming increasingly clear to any sentient being that the real reason Trump fired Comey is that he was getting too close to whatever connections there may be between the Trump campaign and/or administration and Russia.

The reason I bring it up today, instead of the age-related post I had planned, is that I am worried, maybe even panicked, that as the Republican Congress has ignored every Trump administration transgression so far, they will do it again with this one.

Because he closely echoes my own thoughts and is more concise, I will let Mr. Truscott explain:

”All political power is being concentrated in the office of the president. All law enforcement power is being concentrated in the office of the attorney general and, when it comes to enforcing the law regarding the Trump campaign and its contacts with elements of the Russian government, in the office of the deputy attorney general.”

“They have turned their offices into black holes into which things are meant to disappear without investigation or enforcement.

It sure does seem that way to me. Further, Truscott tell us, unless these three men decide otherwise, there are no ways to enforce U.S. law without which we do not have a government and our democracy is crippled.

”What we have (then) instead is an authoritarian regime run by a few men for the personal and political benefit of one man, President Trump.

“No one else benefits — not the citizens, not the systems by which we have until now governed ourselves, not the people who staff those systems, not the people occupying the other elective offices of the government. Only Trump.”

If I may stray slightly from the main topic, let me mention a related disturbing development – the escalating war on free speech in general and journalists in particular.

Without that First Amendment civil guarantee, an open society cannot exist and although there are plenty of other Trump administration attacks on journalists, ponder just these three that took place within just the past two weeks:

A woman, Desiree Fairooz was convicted of laughing during Jefferson Beauregard Sessions' Senate confirmation hearing in January.

A journalist was arrested for asking a question of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

U.S. news organizations were entirely shut out of the Oval Office during Trump's visit with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador while Russian news agency Tass was allowed access.

Our government, our institutions, our founding documents and therefore our country are being snatched away from us and the Republicans controlling Congress have made it evident that they are going to allow this to happen.

Lucien K. Truscott IV again:

”it will take enormous outrage by the citizenry, and an act of enormous political will by their representatives, to bring a halt to this this authoritarian madness.

“Our government belongs to us — not to [Trump]. Unless we teach him this lesson, we deserve everything he does to us with the power he has so nakedly and corruptly seized in this slow-motion coup.”

The whole reason for this post is that I'm deeply curious if TGB readers who are mostly old enough to remember Watergate think I am being hyperbolic to say I believe there is a coup underway, and what other thoughts you have about the astounding government and political events of this week.

Reminder: There probably are not a lot of Trump supporters among us to provoke unseemly argument in the comments but as always, whatever you have to say, keep it civil.

Comments

I am so sick of this president! When are the Republicans in the Senate going to grow some balls and do something about him?

I believe you and Mr. Truscott are right, but I'm concerned that we're missing the angle. I believe 45 is a shady real estate developer with barely enough intellect to hang onto as much of his fortune as he has so far, and he's been set up as a booby trap. As much as he talks, I believe if he had a coherent thought in his head we'd have heard a hint by now. I think the sooner he's out of the way the better the people who've engineered this will like it.

I'm not too fond of the vice-president's ideas either.

I agree Pence is worse because he appears to be coherent, but so terribly ugly in his convictions. Would that exposure of the corruption of the election would invalidate them both.

I am very concerned a subtle coup is underway. Hitler and Stalin were elected. Trump is an ego maniac-sociopath and of the same ilk. Sadly others follow him for their own pathetic reasons of power, politics or stupidity. Yes, i am scared - we may survive but the recovery will be long and painful.

Naturally, I agree with you and with Truscott. I have been anxiously waiting for the Reichstag fire moment for a while. Alternatively, I've been watching the steady development of the American Banana Republic--encouraged by a greedy Republican Congress, who mistakenly think they can use Trump to their own ends. A devil's pact is a devil's pact. In the end, only he wins.

I also think that the case against Trump is beginning to break, through the investigation of his associates and, especially, through the investigation of the money trail which will almost surely lead to the leverage Russians have over Trump.

But I fear that we will be worn down before winning this historic battle.

You are not over reacting. If anything, most people are under reacting. I am terrified, and I doI what little I can. I contact my Republican Senator every day and ask him to call for a Special Prosecutor, and I will continue to do so until one is appointed. Resist!

What really worries me is the succession in case of a successful ouster of The Orange.
In order:
Vice President - Mike Pence
Speaker of the House - Paul Ryan
President pro tempore, Senate - Orrin Hatch
Secretary of State - Rex Tillerson

I just hope we can last until the 2018 elections. Meanwhile, I also am hanging on for dear life in this roller coaster ride.

Ronni here.

I forgot to say in my post that this event, the firing of FBI director James Comey, feels different from the variety of outrages that have gone before in this presidency. Further, this morning the president tweeted a threat against Comey while suggesting that he, the president, recorded their dinner conversation.

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press,” the President tweeted.

When did presidents start threatening government employees - present or former?

In addition, when he is ready to talk, Comey will not "leak" information anonymously. He will state it openly, owning whatever he says. That's the kind of man he is.

God knows I could be wrong but this firing of Comey together with all the followup confusion, mis-statements, lies, etc. from the president and people who speak for him feels like a bridge too far. Like the time has finally come for Congress to take a stand against the corruption of the presidency (if not their own involvement).

Hi Ronni,
I have felt the "coup" or "revolution" from the Republican party happening for some years now. I lived in VA and really felt how the right wing was taking over the part of the State that I lived in. With the help of Fox news and fear mongering and seeding doubt about the government representing its people, the path was laid to bring into power an authoritarian figure that claimed "He would fix it." Maybe he will, but not before he destroys "it." No, I don't think this is hyperbole. And no one else should either.
I have been watching as the Democratic party has followed one red herring social agenda after another while ignoring a whole group of people that used to be their base. As with most who entered Government, post-Reagan, the shiny coins held more sway than the services to so many in need, the need to come up with a new definition of who we were as a society (what with the onset of the very real technological revolution, which is sweeping our world faster than we can keep up) and fixing what needed to be fixed. Whether a Nancy Pelosi, who likes her "power" noted the Republican party quietly sealing their control over our government or not, as she insisted on continuing to "represent" the Democratic party and, [sorry to say], the Democratic party becoming SOOOOO focussed on getting Hillary Clinton elected as the first woman president. This goal having distracted them from the fact that the Republicans were carving out a power base. And the Democrats came across wishy washy while the Republicans stuck to their guns, whether it was spewing anti abortion idiocities or denying Science.

Wishy washy in an uncertain world where people have lost their standing and identities will look a lot less appealing than someone confidently holding to their position, even if that position does not sit with one's beliefs. I watched in dismay as the Democrats, although claiming to be a different party, catered to the same money sources and means of garnering power as the Republican party members, only less effectively because they were being distracted by this or that "social" cause and without the same endless source of money that was feeding the Republican party. I wrote again and again to those members of the Democratic party that as long as they succumbed to doing things the way the Republicans were doing it to ensure their position in Government, we had lost our ability as a party to counter the outrageous means the Republicans were taking to overtake our government.

How long has this coup been going on? At least as long as the Reagan years, although it may have started after Nixon resigned from office. Only the historians will be able to pinpoint exactly when it began (Kennedy's assassination?).

And as you know, John Oliver has been exposing this brilliantly for several years. However, he keeps insisting that he is only a Comedian. In fact, everyone from the original "The Daily Show" were on top of what was happening and continue to be, but they keep insisting that they are comedians. If these media figures started to speak directly to the people (as Trump does) rather than hide behind their comedic mantles, there might be a chance to counter this. But corporations hold the purse strings and I suppose a John Oliver, particularly since he is British by birth, might not feel he is in a position to out maneuver the "greatest show on earth."

Add the dumbing down of America to all of this and the dominance of Television, no surprise that the base that elected Trump were not able to see the difference between a politician and a reality TV personality. Plus all the television shows that supposedly reflected what governing the United States is like make people think they know what governing is like, including orange mop head himself!

We could go on and on. But I am going to go one further: The dye has been cast. The coup has occurred. This is what we have. We now need to focus on what we need to do to pick up the pieces after this destruction of our Democracy. That is, of course, as long as Don the Con does not go nuclear in the interim.

Hyperbole?

I spent three hours last night with Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O'Donnell. Somewhere along the way, I heard someone label Paul Ryan a syncophant. And a light went on: this not only perfectly describes Ryan as an obsequious and self-serving man, it helps explain the - for me - odd behavior of the Republican Congress, which in most cases simply buckles under and does the bidding of the Master. Which only in rare instances dares to criticize him.

I agree with Harold that dt is hardly able to express himself, much less act in any way that isn't bumbling or bullyish -- certainly he is never coherent.

But he continues to scare the living daylights out of me. And this feels indeed like a giant leap toward fascism: the yelling bully of a leader; the compliant legislature. Executive, legislative -- and then the judicial branch, now most likely to follow suit with its new "conservative" [seems too polite a word] majority.

It may appear to be a coup but I don't think it's a planned one. He's just a narcissistic, ego-maniacal bully bumbling around.

I read a story in the New York Times yesterday that speaks to the assault on the free press in this country. A year ago, a poll showed that Democrats and Republicans both believed that the press should serve as a watchdog on the government--the figure was somewhere in the 70s and 80s for both groups. But when the same poll was taken this year, Democratic approval of this idea remained high but Republican approval had sunk into the 40s.

I think Trump has succeeded in undermining trust in the media to the degree that the press now has difficulty fulfilling this function. They can say what they want about Trump and his minions, but a lot of U.S. citizens will not believe them--thus blunting the outrage that would cause people to rise up.

Another article in yesterday's Times quoted a number of Trump voters who cheered Comey's firing. I am aghast at all this, and extremely worried about our future.

I don't think Trump is smart enough to engineer a coup by himself, but he's certainly ignorant enough to be manipulated by those around him. (And they are making the most of it.) A Special Prosecutor is an absolute necessity now, but Pence might be even worse. He has a lot of wacky ideas but is crazy like a fox.

I like many other people are concerned about the concentration of power in the Republican Party. They have all branches of Government (Administration, Congress, Supreme Court). I think their leader DT is incompetent. If he were competent - it would be worse for us. I do have faith in the our system and the American people. I am very active in the Indivisible Groups and it is amazing how many people (in a very conservative state - Arizona) are also concerned. This does not mean that there is no threat. There definitely is a threat - but to me the way to take action is to focus on changing the Senate and House of Representatives in 2018. We need a balance of power to combat this trend. Our efforts need to be focused there....

Scares the bejabbers out of me. I've already learned my Republican reps are not going to listen to a thing I say or write. Senator Coryn I knew as a judge, sorry I ever voted for him now.

Ronni I feel like I have no choice, I have no voice.

Two events stick in my mind as bellwethers of the beginning of the end--

I t seemed as though we were on a roll --- Until the E.R.A.(Equal Rights Amendment) for women--- remember that? They couldn't get it ratified by enough states over nine years. During this time they said conservative women were opposed to the results and luckily their god fearing men made sure the measure died. That, I think, helped create a religious movement to see to it that abortion and contraception didn't succeed and women recognized their place in the home and world as it should be lived-----guided by the men in their lives. They got organized and combined with big business who also was getting organized.

So the second -- Reagan firing all the air traffic controllers-- the beginning of the end for unions. Big business flexing their muscles. Then they formed their own union "Alex"I think it is called?

These two groups have been marching together getting better and better organized every year --
and here we are today!!

I need to point out that we haven't made it terribly difficult for them.
Not quite 30% of the electorate selected the candidates for November, and note quite 60% showed up to choose among them. We've really left the foxes to guard the henhouse perhaps a little too long.

I have thought that a coup was underway from the beginning of *s reign (and before). He has been solidifying his power one step at a time. The complicit Republican party has not only allowed him to do so, but has been an enabler from day one. Even the two Republicans who speak up against him (Lindsey Graham and John McCain) are mild and not consistent in their criticism.

Has anyone noticed that the president been giving more power to the police departments and the military? How long before he has his men in place at the top level? And by the time he has solidified his power there will be no one left to speak for me (us).

I am frightened that I lived long enough to see the death of democracy and the take over of our precious experiment by a ruthless power mad bully and his minions made possible by the SCOTUS in their decision that corporations are people that made it possible for them to buy the weak and venal politicians.

Yes, the take over of our government has been quietly going on for a long time. The ignorant tea party solidified the mindless religious right and the Republican party played their fervor like a violin. The power hungry Republicans had their base.

The root of all evil has bought our government and only we the people can save it. We need a strong leader in the Bernie Sanders mold to wake to populous up and for all of the protesters to solidify their movement and join together in a noisy revolution to stop this evil that is happening.

Ronni, I agree with everything you say, and as always, you say it eloquently. I pray that someone like Woodward and Bernstein will step up and uncover the truth. My faith is in journalism. Neither The New York Times nor The Washington Post seem to be backing down.
On another note..I appreciate your blogs. You do a great job of keeping us informed and enlightened.

Maybe I am naive, but my first thought, after initial dismay, after the Comey firing was that this just might be the first nail in whatsisname's coffin. It's so outrageous and has shocked so many, including some (not yet enough) Republicans, that the minions have not been able to suppress the real reason. I am heartened that the Acting Director (whose name, of course, I forget) flatly contradicted the assertion that Comey was demoralizing the FBI. And the media, the responsible ones, are so ON to all this. Hence, I remain hopeful, but still, it will take a long time for this to play out during which this administration can do untold damage! I am just glad that Himself is such a doofus.

DT has to win every argument, contest, etc. at any cost. The ends justify the means. I don't believe he thinks about the ramifications of his tweets or actions beyond the moment. His philosophy is you are with me and if not, you are against me and therefore you must go. He has lots of experience proclaiming, "You're fired!" Republicans are wimps, more interested in their own career than the country; definitely not interested in 'the people', unless 'the people' belong to the wealthiest segment of society.

Brilliant article! Thank you for your well thought out words! I thought my fighting days were over in college, and now in my retirement I'm back to fighting for our country! It's absolutely horrifying to witness what is going on, and especially that the Republican Congress is doing absolutely NOTHING to reign in this ignorant, narcissistic, mad man! My parents and I escaped during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and never in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen the current, mind boggling events in my beloved adopted country of our dreams! My parents would be so disappointed and aghast at the current political climate, that I'm sad to admit that I'm almost glad they cannot be witness to it!

FREEDOM IS IN PERIL DEFEND IT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT!

Never ever, ever, give up! Keep resisting!

As the Refuse Fascism organization says, "In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America"!

Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime!

There is too much at stake to lose heart and hope! Keep on keeping on!

I agree with you. I believe something dark, damaging, and very ugly is happening as a result of the Trump presidency. I am concerned (I don't want to use "fear") something dire is going to happen in our country. Party be damned; Congress needs to act. Now!

I well remember "the wave" as Nixon climbed aboard an aircraft to remove him from Washington, D.C. I also remember that he was "pardoned"; we might have been better served if he had done his time like other crooks.

I think that Nixon's transgressions were small potatoes compared to the man currently sworn in to govern our country. In addition, his ignorance is so substantial that he does not seem to recognize that when you are dumb you need to surround yourself with smart people. His firing of Comey is a testimony to that. I recognize that this may have happened because the FBI is/was getting close to whatever the truth about Russia may be.

In addition to his lack of cognitive abilities, I have real questions about the organization of the personality of the man living in the White House and whether that has led to his bizarre tweets, and of course, his dismissal of those still protected by the 1st Amendment. He (or, more likely, some advisors) have certainly understood that if the press continues to be free, the bizarre nature of his personality will become more obvious to everyone. Not all of the press will remain as cowed as they have been. If you did not watch, or haven't heard the presentation by Hasan Minhas at the White House Correspondents dinner, I believe that it would be well worth your time.

I know that I am not likely to be around for the next election. I'm old. I sincerely hope that those of you, and your younger friends and relatives, will vote, and get out the vote, to take back our government from those contemptible thugs who have bought their current seats, and roles, in Washington.

I agree with you also. I feel such uncertainty and puzzlement.
I don't know that our country will ever be the same. So depressing!

There's a new movie out "Get me Roger Stone" which tells the story of an actual and incredibly evil person who is the original backer of Trump's candidacy --- that's according to the comments on NPR this mornig. There may be a sinister clue here to the "coup" we're experiencing. It gives me the shudders.

I keep waiting and waiting, expecting those Republicans I know must be there. The one's who actually care more about their country than their party. John McCain sometimes makes an ineffectual move in that direction as does Linday Graham, but no one else has the guts, it would appear. The Dems must retake the House and Senate in 2018. Are we mad enough and scared enough to make it happen?

Now's the time to hold steady............we know the story, we don't have to tire ourselves with what-iffing and outrage. We just need to keep up the phone calls and e-mails to senators, congresswomen and men, and our representatives. And do whatever else we can. Most of us elders have limited energy, so it doesn't pay to let the drama of the news rule us. We need to put one foot in front of the other, keep up a steady plodding pressure. I do believe it has made a difference thus far, and will continue to do so in the future. We sure as f--- can't do nothing!

I agree with Bert:

It may appear to be a coup but I don't think it's a planned one. He's just a narcissistic, ego-maniacal bully bumbling around.
Posted by: Bert | Friday, 12 May 2017 at 08:43 AM

Everyone in Washington is 'bumbling around' - Republicans, Democrats, and most of all the morons surrounding Trump. The Republicans are in a better position to pick up the pieces when Trump self-destructs - and as he does and when he does, it won't be pretty. Nightmares ahead. We hope he self-destructs tomorrow, but it might take longer. If Republicans being at their wits end trying to figure out what this lunatic will do next - with the more conservative ones covertly banding together and planning something post-Trump - if that's a coup, then there's a coup brewing. To me, it just sounds like politics as usual in an unusual situation.

Pence is horrible. Nothing good can be said about him. However, he is a politician, not stupid, and if he's thrust into the Presidency he'll be a bit cautious - knowing what horror preceded him. Of course, if for some reason, over time, he gains traction, then we'll have new nightmares.

While I don't think there's any sort of coup planned by anybody, we do have to keep plugging away to kick Republicans out of office in 2018 and 2020. That's a coup I hope happens.


Sounds like a bunch of angry losers to me. I didn't hear anyone complaining when Obama signed executive order after executive order and was taking away our freedoms right and left. I guess it's only Republicans who are not allowed to govern according to all you liberals. I thank God for a president who is putting our country first for a change instead of allowing countries all over the world walk all over us with bad trade deals and making the United States pay the bulk of the payments for the UN and NATO. And I'm exceedingly happy that immigration is being impacted in a good way. Many illegal criminals were picked up by ICE this week and deported which means some innocent citizen won't be killed by any of them. I direct my friends to this site to read what we are up against with people who hate that a Republican conservative is in our White House. Get over it. He will be president for the next eight years.

Just out of curiosity, Kate...which of your freedoms was President Obama taking away "right and left"?

Yes, I think it is a kind of coup. Maybe even dating back to FDR and the New Deal. The elite co-opted the Republican party and eventually focused their voice in Fox "news." Donald Trump was a lucky accident that fell in their laps.

They'll tolerate him as long as he's useful and then boot him out. Can't you just see Mitch McConnell self-righteously claiming credit for saving America?

Ir's past my bedtime and I came back for a last look at the comments posted after I left much earlier.

After reading Kate's defense of our leader and Katie's polite question I feel it incumbent on me to respond.

Obama signed a TOTAL of 35 executive orders during his 8 years as President while Trump has signed 24 after only 110 days in office. (the latest published factual figure). At this rate Trump will have signed more executive orders than all the previous presidents combined by the time he leaves office. Check that math again - Obama: < 35 in 2,920 days >- Trump: <24 in only 110 days>.

And Katie, your question is right on the money. Obama did NOT take away a single freedom that we are guaranteed in the Constitution while Trump's early executive order was stopped by the courts for a probable violation of the Constitution.

The illegal immigrants being deported by ICE are not murderers like our white home-grown killer, Timothy McVeigh. Many are women and children or fathers being separated from their families.

Kate, it would be nice if you could stop letting hyperbole cloud the facts and/or your judgement. Nevertheless, I will continue to support to the death your right to say it.

I know it's so late that no one will see tihs, but I feel better for trying to correct the record.

Thank you, Ronnie, for speaking truth to power. I felt this was a coup from the start. These people have desecrated the White House and our government, and nobody seems willing or able to stop them.

With every outrageous act I think "is this now enough for the Republicans to open their eyes and finally put Country first?" If I read a book describing the last 7 months of our government, I would have tossed it aside as unbelievable hogwash. We grew up believing that our "checks and balances" system would protect our democracy. He is quickly erasing that system, and it's terrifying to watch. (and makes Nixon look like an amateur)

Darlene...

Thank you.

If for some wonderful reason your president gets impeached then what will we do if Mike Pence takes over from Trump? Granted he has kept his head low but he is just as impeachable as Trump. I pray for both our countries often.

Sorry Ronni I got a false start there. First of all your article was indeed brilliant . This week's firing of FBI Director James Comey is one of the worst things that Trump has done. Your president is narcissism run wild. I don't care for the man nor his "politics"!

(Now comes my other comment which should have been inserted here like this.)

If for some wonderful reason your president gets impeached then what will we do if Mike Pence takes over from Trump? Granted he has kept his head low but he is just as impeachable as Trump. I pray for both our countries often.

I urge everyone to run, not walk, to the library or bookstore to get a copy of Thomas Frank's latest book, "Listen, Liberal: Or whatever happened to the party of the people."

Frank's thesis, correct I think, is that Dolt 45 is America's punishment for the Democratic Party's embrace of neoliberal corporatism and complete abandonment of the idea that even people who don't go to college deserve some security and a share of the bounty that their work creates.

Thank you Darlene.

Yes, thank you, Darlene--and Ronni and the rest of us who see "Trumpistan" in the making! Talk about taking away liberties; under The Orange Apparition and former KKK member Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions, there won't be any left to take away.

This is 1000X worse than Watergate. Orrin Hatch may be our 1st Mormon president. Write or call your MOC to pass an amendment to change the SCOTUS Citizen United decision. It has undermined our democracy. Trump is a puppet on strings.

How fortuitous that Kate published such a poisonous rendition of right wing talking points and we got to see the takedown of said bullshit by Katie and Darlene. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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