Living Large In Carson City: Well, That Was A Surprise Edition


This has been one of the hardest Mondays in a long stretch of hard Mondays dating back to the beginning of 2017 when Trump took office. My disappointment is rooted on many levels. What we know now is that Robert Mueller is both an honorable man, and obviously, a naive one. On the one hand, he knew any information he and his band of loyal attorneys dug up on Trump was going to be subject to two memos authored by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC); one in 1973 during Nixon’s Watergate woes and one in 2000 after the Clinton impeachment. The two memos argue that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Oddly enough, two other memos came to the opposite opinion. Yet, he did the work and came up with a report that will likely not see the light of day outside of the Trump administration and his cronies.

The fact that the memos clash is understandable according to Andrew Crespo who is an Assistant Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Writing in the Law Fare Blog, Crespo states the opposing memos that allow for the president to be indicted come from the Office of Special Counsel and the Office of Independent Counsel. He points out that the latter two offices have different missions, cultures, and goals than the OLC. He notes that the real crux of the issue for Mueller is which of the two sets of memos would he be bound to follow by Attorney General Barr and the Trump White House?

For present purposes, however, the most important practical question is whether the current special counsel, Robert Mueller, is free to exercise his own independent judgment on the immunity issue, or whether he is instead bound to follow OLC’s take. If it’s the latter, then those two OLC memos would together constitute the single greatest shield protecting President Trump from prosecution: No matter how strong the evidence against him may become, if OLC’s memos are binding then the President simply cannot be indicted until after he leaves office—by which point, it bears noting, the statute of limitations for any relevant conduct may well have expired.

Mueller knew all along the OLC’s interpretation was the one that Trump and company would insist on following. This means no matter how damning any information he and his team unearthed Trump was going to claim executive privilege and stand behind the rules set down by the OLC’s memos. It is becoming more obvious that Mueller, knowing his hands were tied by the OLC guidelines, saw no reason in pushing for an indictment, but rather, tailored his findings to be passed along to Congress which is the only body able to ferret out the Trump administration’s wrong doings under the current set of circumstances. These issues relate to obstruction. Other matters were also passed along to other federal courts like the Southern District of New York and Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn) which will take up a myriad of infractions dealing with Trump, his children, and various organizations associated with Trump’s so called empire.

Where I think Mueller was naive was thinking that Barr would agree and pass along the report to the House Judiciary committee. Barr, so far, hasn’t seen it that way as demonstrated in his letter to Congress which was long on political wink and nods but lacked zero substance. The Barr letter is both wacky and interesting in what it does and doesn’t highlight in the report. While collusion is off the chopping block, obstruction of justice by the president and his team is not. A Daily Kos article, Lawfare: What to Make of Bill Barr’s Letter, has an interesting breakdown of the letter by Lawfare which states in part,

It also makes clear that the Mueller report creates an extensive record on the obstruction question. And that may well be the point. After all, what is the point of a prosecutor’s amassing a factual record and then refusing, as Mueller apparently has refused, to evaluate it in a traditional prosecutorial framework? The answer the letter suggests but does not state is that the Mueller report has teed up the question of presidential obstruction for evaluation by a different actor—to wit, by Congress—on a decidedly noncriminal basis. Mueller, being barred from indicting the president, has done the investigation, has apparently declined even to evaluate the matter as a prosecutor, and has laid out all of the facts and the arguments for and against treating the president’s behavior as criminal. Lawfare/DailyKos

Okay, where we are today, Tuesday March 26, is pretty much screwed as to knowing anything of substance concerning the findings of Mueller and crew. Barr appears to be whitewashing the report, and Trump, of course, is calling it a complete vindication of no collusion, and by extension, no obstruction of justice. We can only blame the Senate for confirming Barr in the first place. In a 2018 memo to Congress, Barr expresses doubt about the legality of Mueller’s probe in no uncertain terms. This was long before Barr was tapped as Trump’s replacement for Jeff Sessions (I refuse to dignify Matt Whitaker as an acting anything other than an asshole).  Some have suggested that the memo played a part in Trump’s choice of Barr. One could even make the case Barr was “auditioning” for the AG position through the memo.  In paragraphs one and two, Barr lays out his case rather succinctly, if somewhat arrogantly. He wrote,

It appears Mueller’s team is investigating a possible case of “obstruction”by the President predicated substantially on his expression of hope that the Comey could eventually “let… go” of its investigation of Flynn and his action in firing Comey. In pursuit of this obstruction theory, it appears that Mueller’s team is demanding that the President submit to interrogation about these incidents, using the threat of subpoenas to coerce his submission.

Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction. Apart from whether Mueller a strong enough factual basis for doing so, Mueller’s obstruction theory is fatally misconceived. As I understand it, his theory is premised on a novel and legally insupportable reading of the law. Moreover, in my view,if credited by the Department, it would have grave consequences far beyond the immediate confines of this case and would do lasting damage to the Presidency and to the administration of law within the Executive branch.  Barr Memo

It goes on and on for some 19 pages. If this were not a clarion bell ringing out for Mueller to ignore at his peril, I don’t know what is.

Since we don’t know at this point how this situation will play out, the only course of action is to look at the consequences of what the Barr letter to Congress on Mueller’s findings has created. Trump, predictably, is singing his own praises telling America that he has been wronged but now vindicated. Hypocrisy and irony are totally lost on this man. He said,

“. . . lot of people out there that have done some very evil things, I would say treasonous things against our country” will “certainly be looked at.”

“I’ve been looking at them a long time,” Trump added, telling reporters “you know who they are…They’ve done so many evil things.”

Trump said he loves this country “as much as I can love anything: my family, my country, my god.”

“We can never let this happen to another president again,” he said, boasting “very few people I know could have handled it.”  Deadline

Sigh. Others like Mitch McConnell stuck their fingers in the pie. Mitch blocked a resolution calling for the Mueller findings to be made public. This isn’t surprising since he has long ago lost understanding of what our democratic ideals mean. Mike Pence crawled out from under his rock to claim Trump is completed exonerated and innocent. Of course, this will be hard to prove unless America knows what is actually in the report. In a nutshell the entire Mueller fiasco has turned into a nightmare of hellish proportions.

Talk of impeachment now seems like ancient history. There is even speculation that the Democrats’ plan to follow up on investigations already underway may be in jeopardy. Trump scored a huge win with the Mueller report and Barr’s summation of it to Congress. There seems to be only two possible paths to salvage anything of worth from the past two years of Mueller’s probe. One, by some whim of fate, Congress gets the report (unredacted) and can decide for the American people what should be the consequences that Trump must face. Or the ballot box. On the former, don’t count on it. On the latter . . . well, the alternative to not kicking Trump out of office is simply too much to contemplate at this time.








Living Large In Carson City? Unleash The Flying Monkeys Edition

Confused man.png

“Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.” –Mark Twain

The problem with writing a blog during the age of Trump is not finding a topic to write about each week. No, the problem is deciding which issue is pressing enough to make me ignore the other 10 or 15 stories that are just as compelling. This happens week in and week out. Trump creates a fire storm of controversy wherever he is and whatever he does. Some incidents are so multi-faceted that three or four topics sprout out of one occasion. It’s a bit maddening and makes me wonder what will it be like if we ever get back to normal; whatever that is at this point.

Of course, Donald’s 51 tweets (sprinkled liberally with retweets from his vast catalog of put downs) this past weekend has to rate right at the top of the list of off-the-chart issues that needs scrutiny. Not so much that it is odd that Trump is tweeting . . . again . . . but just the volume and choice of topics is so damned unusual. While there is considerable speculation that some of the tweets may have been generated by his staff, there are enough Orange ones to keep anyone busy for a week or two trying to sort out where the man’s head is at, and why it’s there.

One theme that has carried over into the week proper is Trump’s bashing of George Conway, Kellyanne Conway’s outspoken husband and his attacks on the president. Trump wrote,

George Conway, often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway by those who know him, is VERY jealous of his wife’s success & angry that I, with her help, didn’t give him the job he so desperately wanted. I barely know him but just take a look, a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell! FactBase Mar 20, ’19 @ 7:51 am

Over the past year, Conway has become increasingly critical of the president, often turning to Twitter to express his opinion about, among other things, Trump’s mental health and fitness to serve as president. This past weekend he posted this,

George Conway@gtconway3d
View image on Twitter

He posted a follow up tweet from the same manual on Antisocial Personality Disorder. Understandably, Trump took it badly.  Since then he and his staff have attacked George on a variety of fronts from being jealous of  Kellyanne to being miffed for not getting a job in the White House or the Justice Department and on and on. As of Wednesday, the president was still throwing barbs at Conway. Kellyanne for her part, predictably, sided with the president by expressing her views that run contrary to her husband’s stance. Trump continues to fume and act, well, like he has a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Don’t you love it when Trump calls out his opponents by citing behavior that he indulges in himself. One set of tweets followed this line of reasoning,

The Democrats are getting very “strange.” They now want to change the voting age to 16, abolish the Electoral College, and Increase significantly the number of Supreme Court Justices. Actually, you’ve got to win it at the Ballot Box!

Not a good situation!

….just the large States – the Cities would end up running the Country. Smaller States & the entire Midwest would end up losing all power – & we can’t let that happen. I used to like the idea of the Popular Vote, but now realize the Electoral College is far better for the U.S.A. Factbase

It’s probably safe to say two things. Trump calling anyone “strange” is laughable on the face of his comment. Second, he used to love the “popular vote” until he lost it in the 2016 election. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, not so much. Conway’s assertion that the president is a narcissistic personality plays neatly into Trump’s obsession of losing the popular vote in 2016. The man is incapable of self reflection to say nothing about understanding the role irony plays in his day to day life.

It’s not necessary to go through all 51 tweets and retweets but GM, John McCain, Megan McCain, more Democrat bashing, the United Auto Workers (UAW), CNN, and Fox News host Shephard Smith were all targets of Trump’s verbal gymnastics that ranged from slimy to downright nasty. If this man spent as much time governing as he does tweeting, his track record would be enhanced greatly above the locker room banter he is so wont to do. 

As a footnote, it is worth noting the lack of Republican response to the tweets. Sure, some will lament the fact that the leader of their party spends an inordinate amount of time burning up the tweetosphere for no discernible reason.  However, most of them are silent on the juvenile tweets  bashing McCain, an American war hero, and stand silently by hoping against hope they don’t fall out of the Orange one’s good tidings and find themselves in a primary dog fight come 2020. To his credit, Mitt Romney was one of the ones with the Republican cojones big enough to call Trump out. A few others have followed suit, but not enough.

By now, it is clear that something is afoot in Trump’s little peanut brain. Something has him upset and worried to the point that he knows that distraction is his only outlet at this point. While the media obsesses over 51 tweets that have created a shit storm of attention by the press, other real and serious issues fall through the cracks. Why are we not debating Trump’s abortion of a budget that hikes military spending and includes money for the damn wall at the expense of social programs like Medicare and Social Security, science, education, and just about anything that supports the middle class? Or where is the outrage over Trump’s claims that his base includes the military, police, and bikers who might be tough on the Democrats if they aren’t careful? I won’t even get started on his fear of the Mueller probe findings, the Southern District of New York’s federal court’s probes into his business, revelations that Cohen’s emails have been under scrutiny since 2017, or new info regarding is dealings with Deutsche Bank including erroneously overstating his worth to secure loans. These are just off the top of my head. There are many more languishing out there in the black hole that is Trump’s life.

Some of you know I am fond of W. B. Yeats’ poem The Second Coming and its beginning. The poem opens with,

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. Yeats

The question remains when and what will be the final tipping point for Trump and his presidency? When will his center stop holding? If his 51 tweets aren’t enough to make you wonder, you aren’t paying attention. As the president continues to exacerbate the divide between white supremacist and the rest of us continues, it’s only a matter of time before things take a sharp turn for the worst. His taunts and browbeating of the media, Democrats, and anyone else who can see he is an emperor without clothes escalates, the divide only widens. Unless right thinking Republicans take a stand against his hate and bigotry, things will only degenerate into more of the same. Stay tuned. It shouldn’t be long now.


Living Large In Carson City: There Is Nothing To See Here Folks – Keep Moving Edition


 “They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwindHosea

I know this is going to seem callous and crass, but oh for the days when all America had to worry about was the Iraq and Afghani wars, Michelle’s vegetable garden on the White House lawn, or even a silly Korean rapper called Psy and his blockbuster hit ‘Gangnam Style’. Those were the days of clear cut messaging (Psy is the exception) that appeared in the news cycles and moved on after a day or two. It was a time (anytime before November of 2016) when news stories were more or less one dimensional and could be covered with alacrity that allowed one’s mind to focus and then shut off if so desired.

No longer. Trump redefined the news in such a way that scandals breeds mini scandals that breed major scandals that breed tangential scandals. It’s taxing and wearing the American electorate down. Now, Trump doesn’t even bother creating his own scandals but gloms onto scandals created by others and makes them his own. The scandal du jour concerns Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and a tweet she shared in response to a segement of the American Israeli community’s influence on Congressional members,

First of all, a caveat, I am married to a non-practicing Jew who is the singular most beautiful thing to occur in my life. I will always be grateful to her lineage. It’s a bloodline thing. However, the Jewish people have been snake bit from the beginning of their existence. If the Old Testament is to be believed, they suffered under their Abrahamic god’s capricious, often cruel, whims but preserved to emerge as a cohesive positive force in the world. Then there is their treatment by the Germans in WWII such that the Holocaust has become the definition of reprehensible and evil. Still, again, they preserved

The problem I have with Israeli government, not the Jewish people, is the fact that on the international stage the nation is essentially seen as a terrorist state. Since they refused to return land occupied during the 1967 war against the Palestinians, their refusal to withdraw to the original Israeli borderlines has made them a criminal nation. Compounding the issue is the hard right shift politically over the years within Israel’s ruling parties that has led to expansion of the illegal settlements and genocidal acts against the Palestinians that can not be ignored.

True, the Palestinians committed atrocities during those hectic years after the war.  True, they are the sworn enemies of Israel, but with legitimate claims on the land that Israel now occupies. With forced evacuations, unwarranted raids and attacks on their people, the Palestinians are a shadow of the threat they once represented to their aggressive neighbor. The Israeli government is quick to point out that the Palestinian’s Muslim religion puts them at diametrical odds with the well-being of what Israel stands for in the end. Yet, the ruling Israeli government is ruled by hardliners, no less rabid than American evangelicals, who want nothing less than the eradication of the Palestinian people and state.

I read somewhere that anti-Israel does not equate to antisemitism. You can hate or decry the policies of the government, but not hate the vast majority of everyday Jews; many of whom are also at odds with the government’s choices in dealing with the far less powerful Palestinians. Yet, this is what is at the base of the Omar controversy that Trump has done everything he can to exacerbate.

Omar’s tweet has been blown out of proportion and smacks of bigotry, hypocrisy, and elitism on the part of both the Republican and Democratic Parties. Omar apologized but has been the brunt of ridicule and derision for having the temerity to speak truth to the powers behind the throne. Here she attempted to clarify her stance,

So, for me, I want to talk about — I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. I want to ask: Why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, of fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policy? Right? Truthout 

Trump jumped into the fray earlier on calling for Omar to resign from the Foreign Affairs Committee and Congress for what he thinks was her disrespect for Israel. The entire affair has devolved into a bullshit, political claptrap of monumental proportions. The fact is American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is the strongest pro-Israel lobbying firm in Washington, targeting all Congressmen, not just Republicans and/or Democrats. And yes, as Ady Barkan wrote in an article for The Nation, What Ilhan Omar Said About AIPAC Was Right, it is about the Benjamins,

By Monday morning, AIPAC had mobilized its allies to condemn Omar’s comment for playing into centuries-old anti-Semitic tropes that wealthy Jews control the world. Even the Democratic leadership put out a statement condemning her. All because she dared to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

As a Jew, an Israeli citizen, and a professional lobbyist (ahem, activist), I speak from personal experience when I say that AIPAC is tremendously effective, and the lubricant that makes its operation hum is dollar, dollar bills. The Nation

Officially, AIPAC is prohibited by law from raising money for candidates because they represent a foreign government. However, the group has evolved with a modus operandi that subverts the rule of law while not actually breaking the law. Writing for The Nation in an article titled This Is How AIPAC Really Works, M. J. Rosenberg stated,

In short, AIPAC’s political operation is used precisely as Representative Omar suggested.

Again, I know this because I witnessed it over and over again. I sat in AIPAC staff meetings at which the political director discussed whom “we” would be supporting in this campaign and whom “we” were going to “destroy” in that one. I also sat in on meetings at AIPAC’s huge annual policy conference, attended by as many as 20,000 AIPAC members and virtually the entire Congress, at which fundraising pitches were made.

AIPAC, of course, denies that anyone raises money at its policy conference. And it’s true. No one does… in the official AIPAC rooms. However, there are also the side rooms, nominally independent of the main event but just down the hall, where candidates and invited donors (only the really wealthy donors get the invites) meet and decide which candidate will get what. This arrangement is almost a metaphor for the whole AIPAC fundraising operation. The side rooms are nominally not AIPAC, so AIPAC can deny that any fundraising takes place at their conference. But in fact, they are the most exclusive venues in the country for candidates to raise money in the name of advancing the AIPAC cause.  The Nation

AIPAC uses a variety of “coercive” tools to bend recalcitrant members of Congress to get behind the AIPAC agenda. Nearly everyone in Congress is contacted by members of AIPAC and asked if they will support the AIPAC agenda. Those who say no or waffle can expect a mobilized attempt to change their minds including ensuring, for instance, the Congressperson is confronted back home in public discussions by someone sympathetic to the AIPAC agenda. It’s an insidious organization that puts Israel first and American issues on the back burner until they get their way.

So, the Omar brouhaha is just that a brouhaha seeded with bigotry, politics, fear, and questionable allegiances. While most people won’t recognize it, this is politics at its dirtiest and the epitome of the swamp that is Washington governance. The question really comes down to “What do we get for our lopsided support of Israel?” Politicians get the backing they need at the expense of their integrity. Evangelicals get the warm and woolly feeling deep in their guts that by supporting Israel they are helping usher in the last days before Christ returns. The president gets a distraction that pulls our attention away from his inept, corrupt, and illegitimate presidency.

Only the truth goes wanting.


Living Large In Carson City: Now that the day of reckoning has arrived, they cry socialism! E. A. Sherman Edition


 “When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.” Winston Churchill

The alternative universe that America has become continues to chip away at both decency and sanity as the Trump locomotive to hell steams merry along toward parts unknown. Some weeks are simply bizarre in their oddity. Others, like this one, crosses over to bat shit crazy and picks up speed. The convening of this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is partially to blame. Crazy is as crazy does when that band of lunatics come together to eat their young and idolize the more base attributes of what it means to be an American. From Michelle Malkin making fun of John McCain’s ghost to wild man Sebastian Gorka’s take down of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s  New Green Deal, the crowd loved every minute of it and showed just how far afield the Republicans have wandered. Gorka, conversely, tiptoed very closely to waxing poetic when he stated,

“You know what the biggest threat to America is? Not socialism in Moscow, socialism here in America,” Gorka said, encouraging attendees to “boo” and “hiss” at the idea. “It’s a watermelon,” he added. “Green on the outside, deep, deep red communist on the inside. They want to take your pick-up truck, they want to rebuild your home, they want to take away your hamburgers. This is what Stalin dreamt about but never achieved.” The Daily Beast

I know. Breath-taking in its simplicity and utter stupidity but not without a hint of humor; something I am not sure Gorka intended.

Of course, not to be outdone, Donald made his appearance on the CPAC stage by (as Stephen Colbert noted) dry humping the American flag. Colbert also quipped that it was the first time an American flag volunteered to be burned. Fun times, no? More on Trump and his two-hour rambling speech where he pulled out every meme from the past two years along with his tired outlandish statements on crowd size to his adoration of, well, Donald Trump.

What fascinates me about the CPAC debacle is the rabid nature of the crowd that attends this abortion of right thinking; Malkin’s McCain comment got a standing ovation from some of the delegates present. These are not the basest of the base who attend Trump’s rallies. Certainly, there is probably a contingent of those people present, but this group represent the cream of the Republican Party. They are the money givers. They come to see the Republican elite speak about issues like guns, abortion, the Green New Deal, and to bash the Democrat Party. This year’s theme, as so eloquently stated by Gorka, is the socialization of the Democrats. It isn’t true, but just like their exalted Orange Leader, truth has little merit or credibility when it comes to degrading more than half of the American public.

A case in point was Michael Cohen’s public testimony last week. As has been noted by numerous pundits, the Republicans were more intent on destroying Cohen’s credibility than exploring the substance of his testimony, which was more than a little damning of the president. Yet, led by the popping jay, Benghazi nutcase, Jim Jordan, ranking minority member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, the Republicans put on a third grade snit fit over the fact that Cohen couldn’t be trusted because he had already lied to the committee (if you haven’t seen SNL’s cold opening last week, click here). The concept of someone “seeing the light” and turning over a new leaf was beyond their small minds. The party line was attack, attack, attack the messenger and leave the rot smoldering at the top of the party alone.

Like many Americans, I haven’t been able to understand the Republicans’, and especially the basest of Trump’s base, outright vitriol and out-of control-anger at the rest of the country. Again, like many Americans, I thought once Trump had won the presidency that he would tone down the rhetoric and seek a middle ground that recognized all Americans’ shared values. We were all in for a surprise. Rather than ratchet down the ill-humor, he took his vile angry message from 10 to 15 as Matt Damon so accurately spoofed Brett Kavanaugh last year. For all intents and purposes, he has never left the campaign trail, holding one large meeting after another parroting the same message over and over again: CNN Bad, Fake News, Democrats want to turn America into a socialist country, the press is the enemy of the people and on and on.

One theory of Trump’s madness and cockeyed world view was explored by Mehdi Hasan in the NewStatesmanAmerica in an article titled Could Donald Trump refuse to leave office when his presidency is up? Hasan posits that Trump’s fascination with authoritarian dictators may be an underlying secret desire to mold himself into one of the same as time goes by. He points out that in the past that Trump often opined or joked about radical thugs who have come president for life or have shown strong armed tactics to keep the people of their countries in check. He has said these things with a smile on his face to possibly soften the impact of his words. Yet, Hasan wonders,

So it was all tongue-in-cheek, right? Right?

Perhaps not. “Authoritarians and aspiring authoritarians often ‘joke’ about power grabs or autocratic behaviour as a ‘trial balloon’ to gauge public reaction,” says Brian Klaas, an American political scientist who specialises in authoritarianism and political violence, and is author of the recent book, The Despot’s Apprentice: Donald Trump’s Attack on Democracy. Klaas has a point: Trump’s fellow populist, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, “joked” about assassinating reporters when he came to office in 2016. Today, the Philippines ranks as one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to be a journalist . . . .

Then there is Trump’s domestic record. Political scientists agree that authoritarian or illiberal rule is not only the result of military coups or tanks on the streets. Rather, the slow erosion of democratic norms can also open the door to creeping authoritarianism. Wittingly or unwittingly, Trump has borrowed from the playbook of every successful autocrat of the modern era. NewStatesmanAmerica

Hasan and Klaas’ theory explains Trump’s erratic behavior at the CPAC meeting earlier this week. Hasan goes on to illuminate the steps a textbook authoritarian follows to take over a government and set himself up as the autocratic ruler of the country. He writes,

Undermine the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary? Check. Trump has attacked “so-called” judges who have ruled against him while tweeting that a New York terror suspect “SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY”.

Politicise law enforcement and the security services? Check. Trump fired FBI chief James Comey, tried to sack special counsel Robert Mueller and now wants to remove his attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

Demonise the free press? Check. Trump has repeatedly lambasted his critics in the media as “fake news”, “scum” and “losers”. He has dubbed leading news organisations such as CNN and the New York Times as “the enemy of the American people”.

Fetishise the military? Check. Trump has surrounded himself with unelected former generals – his chief of staff and his defence secretary, among them – and even demanded a military parade be held in Washington, DC.

Delegitimise the electoral process? Check. Trump has claimed that “millions of people… voted illegally” for his opponent and has spread false claims about “serious voter fraud” in the United States.

Criminalise the opposition? Trump has pressured the justice department to investigate his 2016 opponent, “Crooked” Hillary Clinton, and called for the jailing of her former aide Huma Abedin. NewStatesmanAmerica

Trump’s unhinged two hour long speech at CPAC plays into Hasan’s theory a bit too nicely for comfort. I would not encourage anyone to sit down and listen to the speech in its entirety, but Chris Cillizza in his column The Point lists 67 of Trump’s most outlandish statements, which are chilling in their scope and down right crazy off the wall Trumpisms.

Hasan wrote his article a year ago, and arguably, things have only gotten worse. This week he published a corollary of sorts in the exceptional publication The Intercept titled Yes, Let’s Defeat or Impeach Donald Trump. But What If He Refuses to Leave the White House? If The Intercept article is anything, it is scary frightening. He begins with this little scenario,

Trump has been laying the groundwork for 2020. Think about it: Why would a president who has violated a number of U.S. laws, traditions, and norms — from obstructing justice, to defying the emoluments clause, to threatening the free press, to inciting violence — show any deference to Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution?

Consider this scenario: On the morning of November 3, 2020, it becomes clear that Trump has lost both the electoral college and the popular vote to the Democratic candidate, whoever they may be. The president, however, rather than calling his Democratic opponent to concede, holds a rally with his supporters at which he declares himself the winner, tells the crowd “what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” slams the “fake news” media, and claims “millions and millions” of people voted illegally for the Democrats. He denounces a “deep state” coup and warns of “violence.”

Do you really think this isn’t possible? That this potential scenario shouldn’t make us all very afraid? The Intercept

Hasan goes on to cite Trump’s narcissistic personality that leads him to believe he can do no wrong and knows more about everything than you or me. One could almost get the impression that Trump thinks he is ordained by god to lead this country. I write almost because I don’t think Trump has in his small personality or brain a scintilla of godliness or understanding of anything divine.

What Hasan’s articles does for me is answer that haunting question of why is Trump’s base, and for all practical purposes the Republican Party, so angry and pissed off? It seems obvious that Trump is grooming them in case he needs their support should the American people come to their senses and kick him out of office in 2020. If that happens, the ensuing days after November 2 will be crucial to whether or not our democracy can survive the Trump presidency. I would like to reply in the affirmative, but then there again, I never thought he would be president in the first place.