No, Trump and his Admin are not planning a coup

Airport protest

We have so many real problems and serious dangers associated with a Trump administration partnered with a compliant Congress. We don’t need to generate fictional dangers based on happenstance and conspiracy.

Yonatan Younger wrote a compelling and well-sourced text laying out the various arguments that what Trump’s administration is doing is equivalent to performing a coup. His conclusions:

  1. Trump was, indeed, perfectly honest during the campaign; he intends to do everything he said, and more. This should not be reassuring to you.
  2. The regime’s main organizational goal right now is to transfer all effective power to a tight inner circle, eliminating any possible checks from either the Federal bureaucracy, Congress, or the Courts. Departments are being reorganized or purged to effect this.
  3. The inner circle is actively probing the means by which they can seize unchallenged power; yesterday’s moves should be read as the first part of that.
  4. The aims of crushing various groups — Muslims, Latinos, the black and trans communities, academics, the press — are very much primary aims of the regime, and are likely to be acted on with much greater speed than was earlier suspected. The secondary aim of personal enrichment is also very much in play, and clever people will find ways to play these two goals off each other.

He has valid points. However, where he fails is in overestimating the capability of the Trump Administration.

What can be seen as a deliberate attempt to transfer all power to a tight inner circle is more easily explained by understanding that Trump’s administration is the most inexperienced administration to take over the Presidency in modern times. This inexperience is compounded by the fact that our new President is not the brightest bulb in the box, but believes he is so by his own narcissism. His very volatile, one can even say infantile, mentality, which cannot handle any form of challenge, leads  the more rational members of his team to abrogate responsibility and common sense.

People close to Trump are not only inexperienced, but many came into this administration with extremist, authoritarian views. Yes, Steve Bannon and Mike Flynn come to mind.  They’re as likely to override standard procedure just because they can, rather than because they’re interested in the government working effectively and efficiently. They can do so because the United States government is based on the idea that the best and brightest are chosen to lead—not a bunch of drunk, stupid keystone cops.

Regardless, none of the Trump administration actions presupposes a coup. All of their actions are occurring within a Constitutional framework and abetted by a complicit Congress.

When Trump signed his abysmal executive order leaving many legal immigrants and dual citizens stranded in airports, he did so because he can issue any executive order and the federal government will seek to uphold it unless a court intervenes, or the law is so blatantly outside the norm, federal employees refuse to enforce it. Trump’s Muslim ban is Constitutionally challenged, but not necessarily sufficiently abnormal for federal employees to refuse enforcement.

Courts did intervene. Multiple courts. If there are federal employees who disregard a court order, it’s because they’re confused or incompetent, not because of some grand scheme on the part of Trump/Bannon—both of whom who are also confused, and incompetent.

This fiasco came about because of decisions we voters made. Because we didn’t vote, or because we didn’t care, or Jill Stein convinced people Clinton would be worse, or we wanted to mix things up by putting someone like Trump in charge, we made a choice. Or I should say, people in some states, made a choice.

We have a government led by a profoundly incapable leader, surrounded by zealots and syncopates, with a broken, incomplete leadership. This administration was put into place by an antiquated electoral system that devalues the individual voter. But it’s all legal, and allowed.

Trump’s administration is an abomination, but it’s not a coup.

Photo courtesy Kenneth Lu CC BY 2.0

 

Trump Transition Leaves Chaos in Wake

Storm with lightning

Former EPA staffers said Wednesday the restrictions imposed under Trump far exceed the practices of past administrations.Update:

The AP has news that the EPA must submit all studies and data to review by political appointees.

Former EPA staffers said Wednesday the restrictions imposed under Trump far exceed the practices of past administrations.

Earlier:

It’s not been a week and already the Trump transition team has left chaos in its wake.

It has issued a series of gag orders, which in themselves, aren’t unusual for a transition. As the New York Times notes:

Longtime employees at three of the agencies — including some career environmental regulators who conceded that they remained worried about what President Trump might do on policy matters — said such orders were not much different from those delivered by the Obama administration as it shifted policies from the departing White House of George W. Bush. They called reactions to the agency memos overblown.

However, the orders went beyond the typical “don’t make statements to the press for the department until the department head is in place”  normal for a Presidential transition. They included orders freezing the publication of scientific reports and data, as well as information that is normally given to the public as part of the organization’s functions.  That they did so is probably due to the team’s inexperience, rather than an attempt to block citizen access to the data. The end result, though, is the same: concern and confusion.

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“You know, I’m, like, a smart person”

Trump at rally

Among all of the discussion about the Russian involvement in getting Trump elected, one item hasn’t yet received much play in the press.

In an interview with Fox on Sunday, and excerpted in a New York Times story:

He also indicated that, as president, he would not take the daily intelligence briefing that President Obama and his predecessors have received. Mr. Trump, who has received the briefing sparingly as president-elect, said that it was often repetitive and that he would take it “when I need it.” He said his vice president, Mike Pence, would receive the daily briefing.

“You know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years,” he said. He added that he had instructed the officials who give the briefing: “‘If something should change from this point, immediately call me. I’m available on a one-minute’s notice.’”

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No We Can’t Sneak Judge Garland In Through The Back Door

Photo of Merrick Garland

Crooks & Liars put out an audacious plan, based on twitter posts from Daily Kos’ David Waldman.

The foundation of Waldman’s idea is that newly elected senators are not sworn in yet so their positions are vacant. At noon on January 3, previous senatorial terms expire. At that time there are 66 senators whose terms are not expiring: 34  Democrat, 2 independent, and 30 Republican. Therefore, at noon on January 3, Democrats would be in the majority.  Following Waldman’s line of thought, since there are only 66 senators at noon,  it would only require 33 votes to confirm Judge Merrick Garland.

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The Pledge

I was extremely pleased and surprised to hear that an appellate court has ruled that reciting the Oath of Allegiance is unconstitutional because of the phrase “…under God”.

Not everyone believes in a God, nor do all religions support the concept of taking an oath. In both cases, the daily oath makes kids who don’t participate feel like outsiders, especially in today’s frenzied patriotic environment.

The Oath of Allegiance and coating our cars, homes, and bodies with variations of red, white, and blue are cheap and easy ways to show our patriotism. Much simpler to say an Oath than to carefully pursue details of bills pending in Congress, or to vote based on individual merit rather than party affiliation.

Not all webloggers are so pleased as I. Amidst a tangled web considers this a giant step back, saying As a big fan of God, I hope he gets to stay in the USA. At Boboroshi.com:

It’s gotten to the point where society is evicting any piece of religion from anything political. The problem exists that, in evicting religion from our society and becoming completely secularized, those who have excised religion have not been able to replace its moral teachings.

Our society was based on a secular government, a nation whereby church and state are separated. This does not preclude the practice of religion, but does put religious practice where it belongs: celebrated by individuals in their own space, their own time, protected by law.

As for the “moral teachings” of religion, there is no religion – none – that doesn’t have incidents in its past that the modern practitioners of same would just as soon forget. And there have been few wars fought that didn’t have a kernel of religion at their core – including the current conflicts in the Middle East. In actuality, morality, or lack thereof, is a matter of individual responsibility rather than religious affiliation.

Perhaps we should create a new Oath – one with a bit broader base:

I give my promise
to all of humanity
to support freedom in all its forms.

And to the world
in which we live
one world, indivisible
I support liberty and justice for all

I can live with this.