Rule 19: Democrats can’t speak

I was starting to feel like Nostradamus the other day, when I looked back at my inauguration day post. I made a bunch of predictions about the coming Trump administration, including,

“Polls will be discredited when unfavorable, and embraced when supportive.”

“From here, there will be only pre-approved interpretations of events, statistics, economic indicators, battlefield successes or failures, climate change, science.”

Two days ago, your president tweeted:

And today, Yemen withdrew permission for any further U.S. anti-terror ground missions because of the recent raid that produced civilian casualties that outraged Yemenis, while the man-baby is repeating that it was a great success.

The thing is, it’s all happening so fast that it doesn’t really feel like “predicting” anymore. Trump is seizing all power by discrediting, mocking, and attacking all who disagree or criticize. And I’m not talking about Meryl Streep or Alec Baldwin here. And I’m not talking about all the incendiary nonsense of the campaign.

I’m talking about the the things he’s said and done in his three weeks of being president. I’m talking about his war against the other branches of our own government,  and against other governments.

When Trump referred to Judge James L. Robart, a Bush appointee who ruled against his Muslim travel ban,  as a “so-called judge”, it was actually shocking to me to see the judiciary discredited in such a manner. In a tweet, of course. From the President of the United States.

I started to compose a few paragraphs of outrage but then I couldn’t figure out how to begin or how to place it in context. It wasn’t the beginning of anything and there isn’t any rational context. It wasn’t an isolated incident. It wasn’t something that was so out of character and unexpected that we all had to stop and debate about it.

No, it was just another drop of venom-flecked spittle in a continuous fire-hose of venom-flecked spittle that has blasted from this insane clown and his posse for a couple of years now.

As president, Trump has railed against our free press (of course), our independent judiciary, the loyal opposition in congress (meaning even Republicans who dare take a step back), our intelligence agencies, corporate leaders, our treaty partners, our historic allies, and everyone else who might serve as a check or a balance or even a headwind to the power he wants to consolidate as president.

And it’s not just those in positions to oppose him now, but also those who might dare to oppose him in the future. The absurd Kellyanne Conway felt obligated to tweet (!) on behalf of the administration against Chelsea Clinton, of all people, who had said something about Conway’s invented “Bowling Green Massacre” .

Why respond at all? Why dredge up to some ancient “lie” that Chelsea’s mother once told. And the idea that “you” lost the election is telling. Chelsea Clinton didn’t lose the election any more than Barron Trump won it. But, see, Trump can’t stop campaigning against his enemies, even after victory, and needs to throw red meat to his “base”. Chelsea Clinton might run for something some day. But the main idea is that those who “lost” have no right to speak now.

Yesterday, the latest, and really most disheartening, thing was added to the mix. That ever-so-American American, Mitch McConnell, invoked the obscure Rule 19, to stop Elizabeth Warren from reading into the record her objections to the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General.

Warren was reading a letter from Coretta Scott King that called Sessions a racist, and one from the late Ted Kennedy saying he was a  “disgrace to the Justice Department.” McConnell invoked Rule 19 to silence her. The rule says senators may not “directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.”

When you think of what’s coming out of the Oval Office now, this move and this rationale are just unbelievable. And that congress would so quickly and completely submit to and abet Trump’s crazy desire for all power and zero criticism makes no sense to me. Don’t they want any power for themselves?

For months, I was reassuring myself that Trump would get a rude awakening when he found out that being President was not the same as being Emperor. What fun it would be to see his face when congress pushed back or the courts ruled against him.

But the joke is on us. All hail His Imperial Majesty, Donald J. Trump.

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