The Lady (Trump’s Tantrum) or the Tiger (GOP Senators Get Spines) [UPDATE-2]

[NB: Hey. Byline above — check it. Updates at bottom of post. /~Rayne]

It’s Day 25 into the longest ever government shutdown.

Those idiot right-wing anarchists — there’s nothing liber in this libertarian extreme —want to shrink government to fit a Norquistian bathtub. They don’t want to give up their hold on this sodden pipe dream nor relinquish their addiction to anti-government propaganda.

Which means Americans are going to die. It’s just a matter of time.

Did you know the U.S. suffers 48,000,000 cases of foodborne sicknesses a year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in an average year WHEN WE HAVE A WORKING USDA FOOD INSPECTION SYSTEM?

Gee, I wonder what that experience rate does to the cost of health care?

And I wonder what happens when food inspections stop? We’re finding out right now.

Hey, remember that annoying little problem with a mosquito-borne disease that causes anacephalic birth defects and is responsible for cases of Guillain-Barre in adults?

What happens when the CDC stops tracking it because the CDC is closed? Better remember to pack bug spray if you’ve booked a vacation someplace warm.

Oh, you’re going to fly, though. What happens if the TSA and air traffic controllers quit because they’ve had to get other jobs to pay the bills?

Will you get on a plane anyhow and take your chances the planes will dodge each other and simply cross your fingers that you’re not a casualty?

Even your trip across town could be fraught with peril if you rely on your smartphone to assist your navigation. A remotely-performed adjustment to phone magnetometers used by mapping apps didn’t take place Tuesday because NASA was shutdown. (Hope the Defense Department doesn’t need any highly accurate location services.)

That’s where we’re at right now. We don’t have food inspections. We don’t have disease monitoring. We are perilously close to having no border security at each airport and no air traffic controllers. We can’t be sure automated navigation systems work.

And now the Coast Guard is now going without pay. How will that effect border security on the water? What are the chances deaths on the water will increase because search and rescue will soon be affected?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. We are on the edge of a nationwide meltdown.

This is the result of Trump’s tantrum, demanding an unpopular border wall while irrationally weakening other points of entry to get it.

This is the result of his enabler, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who as Trump’s favorite troll refuses to let any bill pass to reopen the government, who also refuses to consider a veto override to get past Trump’s tantrum.

This is Door Number One, the Lady of increasing chaos.

Now let’s look at the Tiger.

A “couple Republican lawmakers” implied if federal employees working without pay at airports walked out that the Senate would be forced to resolve this mounting self-inflicted crisis by re-opening government.

But that’s not a new option — that’s exactly what’s already slowly happening at the airports. People can’t afford the government’s illegal demand that they work without a paycheck. They are slowly leaking away to new jobs when they aren’t filing for unemployment. It’s only a matter of time before Americans are infuriated about the collapse of air travel.

This is still the Lady scenario.

The Tiger is Door Number Two, a new and different solution.

The bottleneck to reopening government is really only one man since the president cannot tell Congress what to do. The one man refusing to move any bills to fund and reopen the government is Mitch McConnell, who doesn’t seem to care much that he’s helping Trump hurt his own Kentucky constituents.

The option is to remove him as Senate Majority Leader, replacing him with another GOP senator willing to reopen the government and return to negotiations with the House on bills that are in stasis. Why a new Majority Leader who organized this and pulled it off would look like a hero to the public — handy if they were running for re-election in 2020 or for the presidency in 2024.

This option will take a majority of the 53 GOP senators to do so — at least 28 senators who can open their eyes and see the enormity of the threat caused by the shutdown, recognize their compromised status is already visible to the public and accept they must do the right thing in spite of being compromised.

19 Class II senators up for reelection, two who’ve announced their impending retirements, another senator who’s up for a special election, and six more GOP senators could collaborate and get this done. Perhaps some of the brave ones who aren’t caving in to Putin’s demands to end sanctions. Maybe a single brave one starts by taking on John McCain’s maverick-y mantle to ask for the leadership role.

They might even salvage their own impending races with a little distance from Trump instead of tying their cred to a less-than-happy 37% presidential approval rating.

There’s the Tiger, ready to be freed from its cage to resolve this mess.

So what’s your pick, GOP senators? Which door?

The one with the Lady or the one with the Tiger?

UPDATE — 3:30 PM EDT —

David Frum tweeted:

As if this was a binary situation, only these highly polarized options available. Clearly the GOP Senate could provide a third option by throwing McConnell under the bus, voting in a new Majority Leader, and allowing a vote on extended funding at a minimum. GOP still looks like it’s in control, workers can go back to their jobs, Democrats will accept this, and Trump doesn’t have to double down.

Let’s see if the GOP Senate is smart enough to come to this conclusion, though. They are awfully busy indulging in a lot of stupid, though.

Right now they are lamely engaged in virtue signaling about abortion. Seems McConnell can manage to allow a redundant, unnecessary bill to go to the floor — S.109, a bill to prohibit taxpayer funded abortions.

Yes, we’ve already had the Hyde Amendment on the books since 1976.

But I guess McConnell needs to look like he’s doing something useful for the paycheck he’s still hauling down while TSA workers are going to food pantries.

The 2019 Women’s March this Saturday has also rattled some of these soft-handed slack-assed functionaries; making idle fapping gestures about abortion must be their method of exorcising teh wimmen before they take to the streets.

You may want to call your senators about this bill and express your displeasure that they’re ignoring the threat to American lives the ongoing shutdown poses.

Oh, and maybe suggest they need a new Majority Leader if your senator(s) are Republicans.

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121

UPDATE — 7:00 PM EDT —

Tweet by Matt McDermott:

Yeah, about that…why is it the one guy who has continuously said “Nyet!” to every bill which would reopen government is still getting a pass by the media?

Have the media bought into McConnell as some omniscient political genius instead of a co-conspirator obstructing government including the operations of DOJ/FBI and the courts?

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122 replies
  1. Trip says:

    This is McConnell’s shut down. He refuses to reopen the government. He owns this.

    It will never happen, but if there was ever a time for it, a general strike (even for one day) should happen now. If all of those people, ALL walked off the unpaid jobs, including the secret service, Trump and McConnell would be slapped in the face with the value of civil servants. They aren’t slaves and shouldn’t be treated that way, as if they are valueless human beings. Their pain does not register with this administration. The peripheral pain to civilians does not register either.

    McConnell is a sociopath. Trump goes without saying.

    • Jenny says:

      Trump/McConnell shutdown; however agree McConnell owns this for refusing to open government.  GOP complicit.  The “I really don’t care, do you” party.

      Cruel and abusive behavior towards government employees.  We should not be surprised considering Agent Orange is cruel and abusive plus known for not paying people who worked for him.  A narcissist who seems to enjoy other peoples pain.

      Brilliant move by Speaker Pelosi “disinviting” Agent Orange for State of the Union and writing a letter.  She is refusing to reward bad behavior.  Thank you Nancy.

    • McWatt says:

      We need a mass strike of TSA workers until the GOP Senate acts.  I suggest a rolling sickout at major and minor airports across the nation. Go in alphabetical order; one each day. You’ll know it’s started when Allentown (ABE) shuts down. Next will be Albuquerque (ABQ); then Nantucket (ACK), Atlantic City (ACY), and Augusta (AGS). If we get to Yuma (YUM) God help us.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah. Though it may be a lot different situation here. Also,

          Allentown (ABE) shuts down. Next will be Albuquerque (ABQ); then Nantucket (ACK), Atlantic City (ACY), and Augusta (AGS). If we get to Yuma (YUM) God help us.

          As to that, um, no those are not going to be the points of contest. Start hitting ATL, PHX, ORD, DFW etc, then you will have an issue. Yuma? Really??

          • P J Evans says:

            Somehow I don’t think the TSA people would go in alphabetical order by airport designation. The big airports, the ones that government officials use getting in and out of DC (or their vacation spots) – those would be at the top of my list: National, Dulles, BWI, then out from there. (And Louisville and Cincinnati, because those would be the ones McConnell would be most likely to use.)

            • Raven Eye says:

              That would be the air traffic equivalent of the Washington Monument Elevator.  Pick the ones that inspire shock and awe.

          • Rayne says:

            I can’t decide which would be more effective. A sick-out at the largest freight airports:

            MEM, ANC, SDF, ORD, MIA, LAX, CVG, IND, DFW, ONT

            Or a sick-out at the largest passenger traffic airports:

            ATL, LAX, ORD, DFW, DEN, JFK, SFP, LAS, SEA, CLT

            The latter would generate noise but the former would generate phone calls to senators from very angry CEOs.

        • AndTheSlithyToves says:

          Precisely why I got into a long discussion with my cabbie on the way to the airport this am when he asked me why I refused to refer to it as anything other than National Airport. Ronald Reagan, friend of the union worker–not,

  2. harpie says:

    HAHAHAHA! This is delicious! :

    7:19 AM – 16 Jan 2019 Rep. Steny Hoyer just told NBC News that Pres. Trump has been “disinvited” from making the state of the union address.

  3. P J Evans says:

    I’ve seen it suggested, elseweb, that shutdowns be restricted by law to no more than three weeks in length. (I’d go farther: an amendment saying that government cannot be shutdown at all. Or, at most, for two business weeks. Laws are too easy to change or bypass.) Because government is essential, as you point out, and as McConnell and most of the GOP-T seem to have forgotten.

    • Rayne says:

      One other problem this current shutdown reveals is the definition of “non-essential discretionary functions.” Why are so many functions we rely on every day “non-essential”?

      Why are so many “non-essential discretionary functions” not treated as they should, as critical infrastructure?

      Nuts. Now I have another post I should write. As always, nice to see you in comments, PJ.

      • J. H. Frank says:

        The downside to expanding the list of vital functions is that the Republicans are already attempting to keep things they care about (tax returns, air travel, food inspection, farm subsidies) going through the shutdown.

        Making them definitionally vital gives them cover when they try this “shut down everything except the parts that might hurt us politically” gambit again.

  4. DWoolly says:

    I have been lurking on this site for some time, waiting for the right moment to make a comment, and this seems to be it.  You guys do a great job here (you guys being both the writers on this site as well as the people who write the comments).

    I have had these exact same “someone is going to die” thoughts, and can’t help but wonder if it’s part of the plan on the side of trump.  We all know he doesn’t possess anything related to empathy, so I wouldn’t put it past him to hope that someone does die so he can say, “See?  If the democrats would just give me my wall, none of this would have happened!”

    • Rayne says:

      Thank you. And yes, you’re absolutely right, the tangerine narcissist-in-chief will blame anybody else but himself for any damage he’s caused.

      Although there are times when I think he would gladly crow about hurt he’s caused — like his malignant neglect of duty toward Puerto Rico. He lost money and face there when a Trump-branded golf course tanked; it would be like him to deliberately screw Puerto Rico because of this loss.

    • Robert L Murray says:

      Moreso than causing pain (as delicious as that may be to him) chaos gets him closer to being able to use emergency powers.  Autocratic moves. Sarah Kendzior is a good follow on twitter on Trump (these aren’t my original thoughts).

      • Rayne says:

        Yes — but many of the GOP senators were uncomfortable with Trump’s threat of a presidential declaration. It would probably be overturned in court because the problem is political, perhaps even political malfeasance, not an external threat or an “act of God” (think force majeure here).

        Nice to see you again here in emptywheel’s comments, btw. Please be sure to use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. Thanks.

    • ken melvin says:

      Oh the irony; those opposed to government workers having the right to strike.  None so indignant as the scoundrel.

  5. Hops says:

    Having spent years working on GPS technology, I will quibble with the navigation part. The navigation apps use GPS, a system of 24+ satellites. Satellites do drift a bit, so corrections are uploaded to the satellites, which always broadcast the latest orbital parameters to receivers. Those corrections are uploaded by the Air Force Space Command.

    • Rayne says:

      Read the linked article and do a little more digging; 2004 US Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Policy as well as 2010 National Space Policy spell out NASA’s role. Air Force Space Command’s coordinates are based on NASA’s satellite monitoring of earth’s magnetosphere. The entire military relies on NASA for this. All of NATO relies on this.

      This is how a foreign entity can fuck up all of our commercial shipping — trains, trucks, ships all use the same navigation coordinates arising from NASA’s work — simply by poking Trump to stay the course on his demand for the wall.

      • Hops says:

        They have ground stations at known locations and can correct the satellites. Also, there’s a system called WAAS that provides regional corrections broadcast by geosynchronous Inmarsat satellites, originally used for aviation but now even in low end receivers.

        Anyway, don’t worry about the nav.

        • Rayne says:

          Still not getting the point it’s NASA’s coordination combined with their work even on the ground that establishes master location.

          Whatever. I’m sure it doesn’t matter at all if LNG tankers miss the dock by a few inches.

  6. HRHTish says:

    Fortunately the US Navy is the Time Lord maintaining the world clock, so at least that won’t go on the fritz.

  7. Pete says:

    Trump can probably order tens of thousands of workers back to work with no pay by taking them off furlough https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/16/politics/trump-workers-essential-furlough/index.html, but talk about insult to injury.

    My sense is that the existing lawsuits aside, it may not be until people start to picket in front of the peoples house that the maniac Trump occupies and the Senate side of Congress that this crisis will get pushed to resolution.

    But I admit, our phone calls aside, I just don’t know.

    “The darkest hour is just before dawn.” – Thomas Fuller

    • Rayne says:

      He can order them but forcing employees to work without pay is itself illegal.

      Chalk that up under articles of impeachment and his inability to fulfill the Take Care Clause under Article II — the president must “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

      • DWoolly says:

        In regards to being able to order these people back to work, can anyone explain to me why he cannot also order them to be paid?  I don’t understand this part of it.

        • Rayne says:

          This all centers on the budget and the release of funding from that budget. Only Congress has the power of the purse, not the president, under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution:

          The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States;

          and McConnell is kowtowing to Trump’s wishes by preventing bill(s) to fund the government from going forward.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Word has it that some Dems are trying to think of ways to help Mr. Trump feel the pain of out-of-work federal employees.  The idea is nonsense.

    Mr. Trump was a millionaire in his crib – rather, a few years later, but before high school – thanks to his daddy’s gift tax-dodging ways.  Donald was most like daddy as a sociopath, unlike an older brother who was smart enough to get in and do well at Penn without having daddy bulldoze the way for him.  (He felt his and others’ pain too well, and eventually took his own life.)  Daddy kept bailing Donald out his entire life, and happily screwed taxpayers while doing it.

    Trump hasn’t the slightest interest and has less capacity to feel empathetic toward anyone else.  That’s especially true when his sad sack advisers keep drilling him with falsehoods about who he is hurting and why it’s good for them to be hurt.

    For the Dems, this is a wasted effort.  It’s not even good optics.  They would be better off all round demonstrating why Trump and the obscenely compromised Mitch McConnell are sociopaths who should be worked around and, ultimately, removed from office.  It is a crime to keep them in positions where they are responsible for the lives of others.

    • Rayne says:

      A malignant narcissist like Trump is incapable of empathy for anyone. Trying to get him to feel others’ pain is a wasted exercise better spent on informing the public all this could be solved by current Senate Majority Leader McConnell.

      • Trip says:

        For what it’s worth, to add to that definition (comorbidity, and overlaps within the malignant narcissistic personality disorder DX):
        Antisocial Personality Disorder
        The symptoms of antisocial personality disorder can vary in severity. The more egregious, harmful, or dangerous behavior patterns are referred to as sociopathic or psychopathic. There has been much debate as to the distinction between these descriptions. Sociopathy is chiefly characterized as something severely wrong with one’s conscience; psychopathy is characterized as a complete lack of conscience regarding others.
        https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/antisocial-personality-disorder

  9. jaango says:

    As a staunch and progressive-oriented Democrat for these past many years, I constantly remind myself that as a ‘minority’ person, our national shutdown is now a newer behavior pertintent to Neoliberalism’s “smash and grab” capitalism.

    However, I continue to maintain my list of “conservative-oriented” political writers, and the other day, I was admonished for my continued utilization of “white privilege” and yet, when I think of these conservative writers, indifferent to my ‘unmet needs’, today’s government shutdown reinforced my belief that Trump’s neoliberalism, is appropriate for this time and place.

    And more so, when I think–that in the future, minorities will become the majority in our America, and thusly, these conservative-oriented writers must be encouraged to craft a few “ideas” that will resonate with this soon-to-be majority.

    In the mean time, I will continue to contend with today’s national behavior that demeans my notion for “decency personified” and which is inherent in out national Constitution.

    In my prudent reference, Reagan’s presidency, his legacy is now appropriately described as the “Era of Criminal Stupidity.”

    And just as George W. Bush’s presidency, his legacy is now appropriately described as the “Era of Gross Incompetence.”

    Need more be said?

  10. timbo says:

    (Darn it, I can’t post replies on here again!)

    Yeah, with Pelosi disinviting the President to speak in front of Congress, this crisis has deepened much worse. This may well give the President another pretext to declare a state of emergency if the Congress cannot garantee his safety in visiting the Congress. Ugh.

    If there is a problem with this security-wise, it should have been aired privately, not publicly (although perhaps there’s a reason Trump got huffy a few days back?)…

    What Congress has to do here is start telling government employees that they will get their backpay and jobs back when this crisis is resolved. And that if the crisis deepens then it is up to the people to make this happen. We’re not there yet but it will come to that I think. Both McConnell and Trump are seeking to destroy the current federal governmental system and replace it with a dictatorship of nutty righters. The amount of pain and suffering they’re willing to exact on average people is a direct insult to the will of the people in the last election. For them, this is not about supporting the Republic, this is about undermining our entire society for the benefit of a shrinking minority who are trying to hold onto power at any cost.

    One other thought. McConnell is signaling here that there will be no impeachment trial in the Senate under his watch. This should be a signal to anyone who supports our Constitution to find that not acceptable. At least we’ll know who hates the actual function of our Congress so much that they’d rather see our republican system of government fall away into… idiocracy.

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t think the security problems should be private. The public deserves to know their employees are being placed in untenable situations with little forethought on the part of the president and current Senate Majority Leader.

      Think about a worst case scenario, in which the entire Congress and White House are at a single venue without adequate security. What do you think would be said afterward if Pelosi didn’t take this precaution?

        • Tracy Lynn says:

          Wow! I’ve heard /read so many references to that teevee show today. (I don’t watch much television except for live sports… I’d never heard of that show until recently.)

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump will find Pelosi’s letter a damning affront, a challenge to his frail ego that cannot go unanswered.  It is an elegant move designed to demonstrate that Trump is irrational and unwilling to act in the country’s best interests.

      TV Trump either ignores good advice and good optics (a sure bet), or he confronts the American people once again with his self-destructive narcissism.

      No claim he could make, no wooden presentation reading words he does not agree with or understand, will persuade more Americans to support him.  The event will harm Congress, too, a mixed blessing, since none of its members (the vast majority of whom are millionaires) should be getting a paycheck when so many other federal employees are not.

    • Carol Rodgers says:

      There’s some poor soul opining on the CBC left wing echo chamber, suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome actually using this site as a reference as proof  their fantasies. Sad reflection of the maturity level in Canada and the US when blubbering idiots use a blog site as proof

      • Rayne says:

        Hey Carol. Welcome to emptywheel. You’re clearly new here since you’ve demonstrated you know little about this blog. You might slow your roll a bit and do some research before you get any more carried away.

  11. AitchD says:

    The U.S. hasn’t had a “working” USDA food inspection system since Reagan’s deregulation blitzes. Some 20 years ago I heard a former USDA meat inspector describe the pre-Reagan processes and the deregulated ones. He focused on fecal matter in the slaughter houses, noting the reduction of power washing and inspectors, and saying now it’s left for the consumer to lick it off.

    • Rayne says:

      I suspect your conversation goes back farther than 20 years because we had a Mad Cow scare — bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) — since then, resulting in changed feed and inspection regulations. We had a much lower rate of BSE in the U.S. because our regulations were more aggressive than in the EU; our meat imports are quite low because of the same regulations.

      Well, until now when anybody could ship improperly inspected meat into the U.S. because government shutdown.

  12. Jason Carroll says:

    Sorry to nitpick, but the next presidential election is 2020, not 2022.  Don’t want anyone to miss this one.

    “handy if they were running for re-election in 2020 or for the presidency in 2022.”

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks, my bad. I think I wrote that part after midnight last night when I am more typo prone. Will fix stat.

      Edit — there, fixed. Let me know if you see anything else in need of tweaking. Already fixed one of my more graceless grafs this morning. ~sigh~

  13. David Lewis says:

    In a conspiratorial galaxy far far away Vladimir Putin, who many many times has called the 98-99 Russian crisis a shakedown of Russia by the west (specifically the US and UK) is oh so close to getting revenge.

    UK government in total disarray, the odds of a disorderly Brexit higher by the day (and oddly promoted by a few MPs).

    US government is shutdown and the public blames the GOP which normally would be sufficient cause for them to cave but Mitch McConnell (helped by Lindsey Graham) will not bring veto-proof legislation (and such exists) to the floor to re-open government.

    Conspiracy theories though…not worth the time to type.

  14. Savage Librarian says:

    All of us know and agree that the Toxic Trump Site needs to be cleaned up and all the cancer that has resulted in the Senate must be removed.

    Mueller is a fine surgeon. But how much is operable? And who else can assist? And what is the chemo? Will the patient survive?

    All rhetorical, of course. And issues well addressed by everyone above. But can’t help but feel time is of the essence.

  15. Cathy says:

    Note language in letter to WH yesterday signed by Cornyn, Cruz and Tx Governor:

    “We strongly support securing the border with additional federal resources including tactical infrastructure, technology, ports of entry improvements and personnel,” they wrote. “However, we are strongly opposed to using funds appropriated by Congress for disaster relief and mitigation for Texas for any unintended purpose. As Texans continue to rebuild and prepare for future disasters, these funds, appropriated by Congress to be spent directly on rebuilding and mitigation, are critical to helping our communities recover, preventing future flooding and protecting our constituents.” [emphasis mine]

    Additional cosigners include U.S. Representatives Michael McCaul (TX-10), Randy Weber (TX-14), Will Hurd (TX-23), Kevin Brady (TX-8), Pete Olson (TX-22), Lance Gooden (TX-5), Brian Babin (TX-36), Kenny Marchant (TX-24), Bill Flores (TX-17), Dan Crenshaw (TX-2), Lizzie Fletcher (TX-7), Michael Conaway (TX-11), Roger Williams (TX-25), Kay Granger (TX-12), John Carter (TX-31), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Filemon Vela (TX-34), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), and Sylvia Garcia (TX-29).

    https://dfw.cbslocal.com/2019/01/15/cornyn-cruz-abbott-texas-gop-president-trump-harvey-recovery-funds-border-wall/

    No explicit mention of “wall” among the list of “federal resources.”  Granted it falls under “tactical infrastructure,” but the letter’s language distances the Tx GOP from Trump’s preferred messaging. This may be meaningless as resistance; I’m just hypervigilant for signs of space between Trump and rest of GOP.

    So they believe national emergency is still on the table and they’re in a bit of a panic?

    Also our neighborhood Coast Guard families are keeping up pressure in local news along the lines of last week’s interview with Bacliff, TX, spouses

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/government-shutdown-coast-guard-wives-extremely-tight-budgets/

    from which news org’s picked the headliners

    “We’re pawns. They’re just playing with us,” [Erin] Picou said.

    [snip]

    “So build the wall, don’t build the wall. But pay our husbands,” [Vienna] Julien said.

  16. William Twasutyn says:

    We need Yellow Vest federal workers to plan a day or two of strikes to ground the airports and other essential services to a halt and this would be a big step in getting McTurtle & his NRA ass-kissing cronies to pass the approved House bills to open the Gov’t.   The Yellow Vest strikers brought Macaroon to his knees and quickly offer concessions.

    It was reported that a person with a gun already made it onto a flight out of the U.S. in the past week.

    Great piece Rayne.

    • Rayne says:

      Federal workers have already been protesting. I oppose the idea of appropriating the image of Yellow Vests – les gilets jaunes – for such a purpose as the Yellow Vests are part of a right-wing white nationalist movement spurred with Russia’s help.

      As for the French version of protests: the Gilet Jaunes initially demanded economic concessions which expanded to include disruption of the EU and NATO. Same modus operandi as in the U.S. where “economic anxiety” was used as an excuse for Trump’s support but in actuality was only a gateway wedge issue applied to foment conflict.

      Trump and McConnell are now the wedge issues. Remove the latter to defang the former.

    • Cathy says:

      True – the letter represents the Texas delegation, as have most items concerning Harvey. ~Keep Austin Weird~

  17. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    I have said here for months that there is going to be loss of life, bloodshed and that the deciding piece in this stage of the coup is going to be where the standing military comes down. I’m not certain that a general strike would not give the Nazis the room they need to call a national emergency and call out the various state National Guard units (they are, after all, already federalized) and assign them strategically around the country’s largest population centers. There is precious little time to get a critical mass of  Republican senators to bail on McTurtle, but if that happens the best scenario is to get enough of ’em to join Dems in demanding the shutdown bills come to the floor. There is not time to go through the rigmarole of voting Miss McConnell out of the leadership. I don’t think we have time for a constitutional, institutional solution. We are where we always are: several steps behind and waiting for events to determine our response.

  18. Yogarhythms says:

    Rayne,

    Thank you for all you do. Personal tragedy precedes bureaucrat’s inertial change. Until the pictures are seen the people won’t get in the street to demand removal of area man and his turtle.

  19. BillT says:

    We need Yellow Vest type federal workers to go on strike for one or more days to shut down services, which would quickly force McTurtle and his NRA kiss-ass cronies back to the bargaining table with the Dems.
    The French Yellow Vest strikers, brought Macaroon to his knees after a week or more of strikes and brought more quite a few concessions from the French Gov’t.

    The different U.S state teacher unions were also successful in getting more of what they wanted when they struck in 2018.

    Unions might also have a better chance of membership growth, across the country, if unions supported each other as Yellow Vest brothers and sisters in arms.

    With such low unemployment, the Gov’t or organization CEOs would not easily find replacement workers to take the place of striking workers; as they did in the past.

  20. silcominc says:

    Rayne, I am confused. When Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov compliments Trump (as he just did) and McConnell is on record has telling Obama to keep Russian efforts to destabilize USA secret…what will it take for trump’s base to wake up to the fact that McConnell and Trump are Russian hacks? From my perspective, Trump was paid three billion dollars to destroy the USA and he is doing a pretty good job of that. But what will it take to wake up his base or are they really a bunch of zombies?

    • Rayne says:

      Trump’s voting base consists of authoritarian personalities, amounting to 25-30% of the population. Bob Altemeyer wrote, “Authoritarian followers seem to have a ‘Daddy and mommy know best’ attitude toward the government.”*

      They won’t wake up until their authority figures crack and shift away from supporting Trump. We can only peel away a few percent at a time as they become disillusioned, but that’s not an easy or quick process. They cling very tightly to some of the values he represents; to question his values is to question their own which is too painful. Authoritarians are better at taking orders — that’s the real danger.

      We have to drag them with us because non-authoritarians are typically the rest of this society. Think about how many people still thought Nixon was an okay guy in spite of the Watergate hearings. They had to be dragged along into the future.

      *The Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer, pg 18, link to PDF

      • Spencer Gainey says:

        Many hardcore Trump supporters would gladly chose Putin as their leader over Hilary Clinton or any other centrist-progressive candidate. I believe that’s how truly toxic the well is.

        I picked up on that line of thinking from Christopher R. Browning writing for the NY Review of Books comparing 30s Europe with America today:

        “In France the prospect of a Popular Front victory and a new government headed by—horror of horrors—a Socialist and Jew, Léon Blum, led many on the right to proclaim, “Better Hitler than Blum.” Better the victory of Frenchmen emulating the Nazi dictator and traditional national enemy across the Rhine than preserving French democracy at home and French independence abroad under a Jewish Socialist…”

        He goes on to link with the present political situation in America….”I suspect that if the Mueller report finds that the Trump campaign’s “collusion” with Russians does indeed meet the legal definition of “criminal conspiracy” and that the enormous extent of Russian meddling makes the claim that it had no effect totally implausible, many Republicans will retreat, either implicitly or explicitly, to the third line of defense: “Better Putin than Hillary.” 

        “Better Putin than Hilary…” I’m from Oklahoma, reddest of the red, and I have to agree with Mr. Browning. Totally plausible with many folks I know around here.

        • Rayne says:

          That’s how effective +20 years of propaganda has been at deluding the authoritarian base. The last several years of Russian-developed and promoted information warfare picked up where Fox and right-wing radio left off, but out of sight of the public, beating away at existing schisms in society until they were fully on board with a white Christian strongman’s proxy.

          Some of the schisms are much older and deeper than Trump’s lifetime — race and gender being the most obvious. It’s going to take more than removing Trump to fix these problems because they are so deep.

        • Yohei72 says:

          Spencer, you don’t have to speculate – months ago I saw a picture of a couple grinning attendees at a Trump rally with t shirts reading “Better Putin Than Hillary” or “I’d Rather Be Russian Than a Democrat” or something equivalent.

      • Marinela says:

        From what I’ve read, in Germany, Hitler came to power with about 30% of support of the population.

        He was not that popular, but was helped by enablers and by people thinking they can control him.

        In the end, they didn’t.

        • silcominc says:

          Thank you, Rayne, for the info. The parallels of Hitler and trump are truly scary.  I kept thinking some event could / would occur to unite people unify/  unite the populace.  That seems unlikely so what do we do going forward?

          • Marinela says:

            The problem now is that the GOP senators are acting as Trump enablers.

            But Trump is no Hitler, he is really incompetent. The real problem arises when a “populist” gets elected and he is competent. After the fiasco of Trump presidency, those die hard supporters are going to get even more delusional. There is apparently no limit as to who they are willing to vote for.

            The best outcome for US is democrats win all branches of the government in 2020 and govern for a while, for these problems to get resolved.

            It will take many years to recover from the effects of the Trump presidency.

            But people need to show up and vote every two years, regardless of the election results, to counter the 30% or so of the deplorables. Voting is the one unifying activity that could help a lot.

            Not sure how to find unity with people that are racists. You hope no more young ones get recruited and the old ones die out.

            • Rayne says:

              Demographics will do a lot of the work. It’s one of the reasons the GOP has been so willing to chase Trump’s white nationalist base with anti-immigrant policies. They recognize whites as a demographic are not growing as quickly as other non-white demographics; they want to suppress non-white expansion. But they fail to realize their racism and discrimination damages their relations with the very folks who could grow their party — non-whites aren’t uniformly left of center. In less than 20 years whites will be a minority in the US and the presence of so many non-white women freshmen in Congress is an indicator of the coming demographic shift.

              With regard to unity: as a woman of color I have no good reason to find unity with people who believe I am not their equal or that my kind should die because of history’s fluke and a ridiculously small difference in genetic makeup.

              • Marinela says:

                Rayne, totally agree.

                As a white women, I feel uncomfortable and actually scared about this entire situation, for different reasons. Don’t know why, but I didn’t feel this way before Trump got elected.

                Maybe I was leaving in a bubble.

                • silcominc says:

                  Thank you for some really thoughtful responses.  I think we need to put an end to Fox and other ultra-right wing propaganda machines.  We need to bring back the Fairness Doctrine and expand it to include digital and then enforce it.  That would go a long way to re-educating his base.  The division is fanned by Reagan getting rid of the Fairness Doctrine which led to talk radio et.al.

                  • Rayne says:

                    I wrote something a couple of days ago about living our values — the ones that make us American. Free speech is one of those values. I don’t think we can “put an end to Fox” or other propaganda outlets if we live those values. What we should be doing is revisiting media ownership and excessive concentration, proliferation of hate speech which is not protected speech, insisting that broadcasters fulfill the obligation to serve the public interest with their license to bandwidth.

                    And yes, the Fairness Doctrine should be revisited on publicly-owned broadcast airwaves.

                    Of course there’s the commercial route — loudly boycotting advertisers and platforms works.

                    • P J Evans says:

                      The Fairness Doctrine needs to be re-enacted. Taking it out was greatly to the benefit of the conservatives/reactionaries, and to the detriment of the country.

                    • Rayne says:

                      Think I said something to that effect in the last 24-48 hours. I’m getting cranky-loopy. Louise Slaughter (RIP) had been a key proponent, submitting the FAB Act (Fairness and Accountability in Broadcasting Act) each year she served in office from 2006 until she left office. That bill needs a revisit, freshening, and resubmission as the update to the Fairness Doctrine.

                      I hate that I know this much and it never became legislation. It might have helped slow down this bobsled ride to hell.

                • Rayne says:

                  I think we were all in a bubble of some sort, though some of us worried right off in 2009 during the health care debates because things already looked weird. A complacency fell over the American left once Obama had been elected, as if electing the first black president was ne plus ultra. This was utterly naive; the election itself triggered massive backlash, providing a wedge issue too easily used by outside forces.

                  No way out but through. We’ll all have to get each others’ backs.

                  • silcominc says:

                    I was in the middle of those healthcare debates – our congressman had to wear a bullet proof vest given how contentious and toxic the vitriol was.  There were senior citizens screaming that they wanted government out of their healthcare yet they were on Medicare – which they loved.  Senseless and brainless. Much like today’s rhetoric from the right – it is nonsensical.

                    • Rayne says:

                      I’m sure the Russians learned a lot from the 2009 health care debates — like how easy it was to rile up voters with a wedge issue using nothing more than strategically applied information warfare.

      • Lydian says:

        OMG – Thank you for this link! Altermeyer’s writing on authoritarianism is on point! I’ve been wanting to read more of his writing for a while now and wasn’t aware this pdf existed. Definitely worth reading the entire document. Namaste.

        • Rayne says:

          I was happy I found that link, too. Every time I’ve looked recently an older location had degraded and hosting had died. I made sure to download a copy this time. ;-)

      • Tom958 says:

        First time poster. We’ll see how this goes.

        As a white man who works in a supervisory role in the construction industry in the South (!), I feel the need to remind those in more genteel environments that the Trumpist thirty percenters that I know- and there are many- are lovin’ this sh** and would be perfectly happy if all of the furloughed workers were fired, let alone laid off.  The suggestions here of a “general strike” (by only a small portion of workers!) will not have the desired effect on people who already fantasize about running over protesters with their trucks.

        It’s obvious that Trump et al are playing to the thirty percenters, and it’s equally obvious that that’s no way to win elections. So, maybe winning reelection isn’t the objective. I’ll just blurt it out: I think there’s a good chance that Trump et al are playing to the three percenters: the ones who own half the guns in our firearm-saturated society, who worship Trump like a god, and who have routinely professed their willingness to take up arms in the service of various right-wing causes since…  well, a while back. 2008 seems like a good time to start counting. That would also be the reason that Trump hasn’t fired Mueller despite the Republican Party having made it abundantly clear that they’d let him get away with it. It’s important to maintain the narrative of Trump as innocent victim of the deep state and the shadowy elites who blah blah blah.

        I think it’s worth considering that Trump and certain figures in his dwindling inner circle believe that a large number of these people are willing to start killing if Trump is about to be deposed, and that the police and military won’t intervene or might even join the fun. After all, it’s not as though things like that have never happened.

        The other night I had a sudden urge to listen to an old Clash tune, and I pulled it up on YouTube, where I was treated to a two-minute diatribe by Dana Loesch, c/o the NRA.  But for the slightly hushed and mumbled word “political,” it was an unabashed threat of and incitement to violence on behalf of Trump. Maybe that’s why the Russians have been so interested in the NRA.

        • Rayne says:

          Hillary described them in one word and she was villified for it. But she was accurate.

          I think we’ve already seen hints of what his narrowest base could do though they may not need guns — just look at the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville.

          I agree about Putin’s interest in the NRA; it’s a multipurpose organization including a money laundering outfit. But how handy to be able to aim weapons at one’s enemy without ever actually deploying one’s own military to do so.

          Welcome to emptywheel. You’re welcome to drop by and rock the casbah any time.

        • bmaz says:

          Yes Tom958, as Rayne said, it went fine, and thank you for joining us. I will have to say, I laugh anytime the notion of a “general strike” is really mentioned, for several reasons, but totally including exactly what you noted. I do not suggest it, but a limited strike by air traffic controllers would do the deed today. Though I suspect what Reagan did decades ago will insure they do not do that.

          This is one of the reasons I laugh when, hourly, people talk about the Trump era as being so divergent from “the Reagan GOP”.

  21. Mark Ospeck says:

    Monty, I choose door #2, remove Mitch as the Senate Majority Leader.

    As usual, vg, if a bit depressing, obs, Rayne

  22. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Reply and ‘Tab’ not working…

    @Rayne at 1:52 pm — Agree that authoritarians, who seek safety behind a strong leader, are a huge part of the problem. McConnell was able to manipulate rules in order to get a few SCOTUS appointments; however, that doesn’t make McConnell the kind of leader who can protect his party. Indeed, the losses seem to be accelerating.

    The GOP lost 40 House seats, state governorships, state houses, and campaign contributions. Layer onto that mess: weird financial signals, and breathtaking foreign policy moves by Moscow, Beijing, and Dehli. People need to reassess whether a few SCOTUS picks are worth the electoral, economic, and foreign policy losses that are accumulating by the day.

    For McConnell to use the excuse that Trump has to sign legislation — as if no override exists — is dishonest, in a way that seems increasingly malicious as each day passes.

    A smarter senate would cut their losses, and ditch Mitch. Instead, they seem to be almost paralyzed in some kind of bunker mentality. Consequently, they make themselves relevant only as objects of scorn and derision: ditching Mitch would at least start to shift that very nasty dynamic and make them appear at least minimally competent.

    • Jenny says:

      Excellent slogan “Ditch Mitch.”  Perfect protest sign.  A no confidence vote is needed against McConnell; however the GOP are not smart enough to cut their losses.  They just follow the malicious leader into his shell – Party over People.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          It appears that the most craven among them are waiting for Mueller to come up with something that will allow them to moan, caterwaul, and somehow hope to save face.  They may as well wait for Godot.

          Their ongoing tolerance of McConnell’s machinations implicates them as cowards and fools.  It would be sad if it weren’t so absolutely tragic; they had a shot at ‘greatness’ and instead they are following Trump and McConnell off a cliff.  I’d wash my hands of the whole lot of them if it didn’t also affect me and mine.

  23. cat herder says:

    So, what happens to the economy when 800,000+ workers, and the family members they support, stop spending money all of a sudden?

    (breaking my self-imposed exile from commenting – nested comments are difficult to keep track of over time (no ‘NEW’ flags to highlight the ones you haven’t read yet? this is 20-fucking-19, it’s not that hard), flat comments are easier (you can add a temporary bookmark for the last one so you can pick back up however many hours later) – but forcing a combination of nested and flat because of a reply button that only works for some users on some platforms, for some reason that nobody seems interested in figuring out is so absurdly broken and for so long that it starts to feel like it must be intentional.)

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks, cat herder. I shared last week an example of a small business owner affected by the shutdown. For every one employee affected by loss of income, six or more people are affected by a loss of business or service in some way. It’s not just 800K workers — it’s 4.8M Americans affected at a mininum. And the effect spreads because of what is in the planes and ships and trains being monitored/policed/inspected by federal workers.

      Sorry about the inconvenience with the comments; it’s extremely difficult to use on mobile devices. But the challenge is multifold, not as simple as it looks. Keep in mind just how many different operating systems, devices, browsers are used by readers and you see a fraction of the problem.

      Thanks for commenting anyhow.

    • P J Evans says:

      The comment-reply problem isn’t limited to any one browser. It’s off-and-on for everyone, AFAICT.

  24. Zinsky says:

    You take away someone’s livelihood and they get desperate. Desperate people do desperate things. I certainly don’t wish this but there will be violence. Count on it!

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t know that this is true. I certainly wouldn’t want to see anyone act out because they’re desperate.

      But we’re also fooling ourselves if we think there hasn’t already been violence because of Trump’s presidency. He has encouraged violence with his language, like calling the press “enemies of the state.” Absolutely unacceptable behavior — it’s incitement.

  25. gretab says:

    I have some questions about your proposal the GOP replace McConnell. It is my understanding that congressional party leaders are chosen by each party at the start of a new Congress. That means the GOP just reaffirmed him less than 2 weeks ago on January 3rd (my God, it seems like months ago!). They knew his position already. Are they likely to rebel so soon, especially since he still controls donor purse strings they need? What would be the process? Looking at the list of Senate leaders on their webpage, it looks like there have only been replacements when the original died or left office for some reason during the term of that Congress. McConnell isnt likely to resign, even if something scandalous is widely reported about him. That takes the ability to feel shame, and he doesnt have a smidgon of that sensibility in his body. He loves power too much, and is beholden to too many donors to step down on his own. As far as I know, we dont have anything similar to a no confidence vote in our system. So realistically, how could this be accomplished? I sincerely believe you have the right idea, but dont see how it can be accompliahed.

    • Rayne says:

      Two words: Trent Lott.

      There’s nothing about this shutdown the GOP Senate can’t fix with adequate political will — and some smarts.

      Edit: I’m feeling generous. Here’s a link about Lott stepping down as GOP Senate Majority Leader. Is McConnell’s obstruction as bad as Lott’s support for overt racism? Try asking federal employee who’ve had to negotiate with their creditors and hit a food bank for the first time in their lives.

  26. JD12 says:

    What do you think of this?

    I’m A Senior Trump Official, And I Hope A Long Shutdown Smokes Out The Resistance https://dailycaller.com/2019/01/14/smoke-out-resistance/

    Like you said, they want to shrink the government, but this is not at all the way to do it. Not that this was the plan in the beginning, I’m pretty sure they expected Dems to roll over (which they usually do, but not this time) and this is a rationalization.

    It’s nothing more than anecdotes and assumptions but it’s worth a read just for the insight into the administration’s thought process.

  27. Eureka says:

    The freshman reps have a hashtag going on twitter- #WheresMitch.  You have to see it:  besides their formal letter, they’ve got video clips, individual tweets, citizens and proud constituents joining in, folks learning how democracy works.  This type of stuff is what I meant recently when I said ~ we can be the smart, fun ones.  Not that everything has to be entertaining- quite the contrary- but a sense of conspiratorial humor goes far with a ridiculous situation like this.  It gives some energy to lampooning McConnell’s obstructionism.  And like Rayne often says, ~the revolution is coming in ways that people don’t necessarily expect.

  28. laura says:

    I’m a resident of Kentucky – on behalf of our state I would like to apologize for the majority of the state who keeps re-electing Mitch. I call every day to tell him to end the shutdown and every day I get the recording saying all lines are busy. So much for listening to his constituents. This is why I am seriously considering a run for the Democratic primary in 2020 to unseat Mitch. Time to take out the garbage.

  29. cfost says:

    Chaos Creates Cash. Follow the money. Who is profiting from this? We worry about the aluminum market now that Deripaska sanctions are lifted, but what about the exponentially larger potential to profit from currency market turmoil?

    Chaos Creates Opportunity. For McConnell’s Chinese in-laws, for Manafort’s and Trump’s Ukrainian and Russian “associates,” for cable news companies and billionaires around the world.

    I agree with Ted Koppel. We have become addicted to the outrage (those of us on the left wing as well as those on the right wing) associated with attention whore Donald Trump. It’s time to send him, and the Murdochs, to their room and ignore them for awhile. Nancy Pelosi did exactly the right thing by postponing the State of the Union Address.

  30. Raven Eye says:

    Geez.  If this shut-down stunt keeps on running, we could see a reverse Insurrection Act.

    Just kidding.  [Barely.]

  31. Michael says:

    @Rayne
    “…paragraph gone awry…”

    I see; “para” has become “graf”.
    “How silly of me; I should have known,” (my late bro-in-law)
    :-(

  32. cat herder says:

    Posting this here instead of the most recent to hopefully avoid annoying the B-man. :)

    Same machine, same OS, same browser, same extensions active, same user: ‘reply’ and formatting tools work in some threads, not in others. And which ones work and which don’t switch around at random. Reload/refresh rarely if never makes a broken one work or breaks a working one. However a few hours between visits will sometimes trigger a switch.

    On threads where the ‘reply’ link works and the formatting toolbar is present above the main comment box at the bottom of the page, these elements are loaded. When reply+formatting is broken, these elements do not load. Just FYI. Maybe it will help whoever does these things pinpoint the issue.
    Loaded when page works/missing when page is broken:
    /js/jquery/ui/autocomplete.min.js
    /js/jquery/ui/core.min.js
    /js/jquery/ui/menu.min.js
    /js/jquery/ui/position.min.js
    /js/jquery/ui/widget.min.js
    /js/tinymce/skins/lightgray/fonts/tinymce.ttf
    /js/tinymce/skins/lightgray/fonts/tinymce.woff
    /editor.min.js
    /plugins/simple-comment-editing/images/loading.gif
    /plugins/simple-comment-editing/js/simple-comment-editing.min.js
    /css/dashicons.min.css
    /css/dashicons.min.css
    /css/editor.min.css
    /js/dist/hooks.min.js
    /js/dist/i18n.min.js
    /js/dist/vendor/wp-polyfill.min.js
    /js/tinymce/plugins/compat3x/plugin.min.js
    /js/tinymce/skins/lightgray/content.min.js
    /js/tinymce/skins/lightgray/skin.min.js
    /js/tinymce/skins/wordpress/wp-content.css
    /js/tinymce/tinymce.min.js
    /js/utils.min.js
    /js/wp-a11y.min.js
    /js/wp-ajax-response.min.js
    /js/wplink.min.js

    • cat herder says:

      When I posted the above this page was broken. After it posted, the page was fixed. I changed nothing inbetween.

      • Alan says:

        sometimes a communication error on the internet results in only part of the page loading, and you see garbled data until you reload

    • bmaz says:

      Honestly, I have tried repeatedly to get people to understand our severe security issues here. We try to keep the blog up, and struggle to do so, but, yet, people seem more concerned about the fucking “reply button” than our blog health and ability to be up in the face of relentless attack.

      And, yes, it is really and truly tiring.

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