How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

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thoreau
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by thoreau » 31 Dec 2018, 15:56

Fundamentally, Trump is so tied to his personal brand that it is probably impossible for him to be the leader of a liberal republic. Sell the assets and detach him from the brand and it loses value, so the sale can never happen on tolerable terms. Keep the assets tied to him and he's a walking, talking, tweeting conflict of interest.

Bush Sr. had long ago left business life. Reagan might have been getting some miniscule residual checks but they were peanuts. Carter sold his peanuts. The leader of a liberal republic needs to separate himself from business so that he can also maintain the necessary separation of self and role that is critical in a republic.
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JasonL
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by JasonL » 31 Dec 2018, 16:13

Nice sentiment, maybe stronger than what I think is the case, nowhere near enough to throw out an elected person in itself. I lean much closer to the direct payments view, and I think it's very difficult for a lot of people to divest themselves sufficiently to satisfy that set of conditions. I think disclosure of conflicts is good and proper but I don't see them as preemptively disqualifying and there's no precedent for that so you'd be doing it just for this guy in the eyes of a lot of people.

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thoreau
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by thoreau » 31 Dec 2018, 16:40

OFFS, Jason, don't you have a job where you can't engage in certain types of transactions because of potential conflicts or the appearance thereof?

Also, as to the "just for this guy" angle, every other guy who ever held the job in recent history went much farther in divesting, disclosing, etc., out of an abundance of caution. If "just this guy" is being singled out, maybe it's because he singled himself out. I know that you are looking for a precise rule that fits in with the existing flowchart, but the whole idea of avoiding the appearance of impropriety is to stay far away from the land of "Well, technically, nobody actually..." Even if there's nothing that, under the law, requires a prison sentence, impeachment and removal are discretionary matters, and that discretion should be exercised to deter people from going into the realm of "Now, wait, technically my conflict wasn't..." In most jobs, isn't there a category of conduct that a prosecutor wouldn't lock you up over but a manager would can you over? Isn't it important that we have that middle ground, and that the people policing it are not literal police, so that there are options intermediate between "This is all cool" and "The law was indisputably violated so somebody must be locked up"?

Look, maybe there is a way for the leader of a liberal republic to have a business dependent on a personal brand, but handling that would require far more scruples than Trump has ever displayed. As it is, nobody in any other government job could have his conflicts of interest and get away with it. Nobody in any other government job could have the sorts of connections to Russian mobsters and intelligence officers that he has and get away with it. If literally nobody else in the government could get away with it, maybe he shouldn't either.

All that said, I actually do fear the consequences of what I'm proposing. I do. I do fear that a substantial portion of the public will view this move as illegitimate. I do fear the consequences of that. Then again, I also fear the consequences of saying that a leader can get away with his conflicts of interest and his footsie (at a minimum) with Russian intelligence during the campaign. I fear what a future President will do if we say that what Trump did is acceptable.

The fact that we are stuck with this choice between letting Trump get away with gross conflicts of interest or delegitmizing Congress with the removal of a populist is why I genuinely worry for the future of the American republic. It may be that either option will ultimately destroy the system. But I would rather that history record "The system fell apart after they tried to punish a corrupt leader", as opposed to "The system fell apart when they let a corrupt leader get away with it."
"They were basically like D&D min maxers, but instead of pissing off their DM, they destroyed the global economy. Also, instead of their DM making a level 7 paladin fight a beholder as punishment, he got a +3 sword of turning."
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Shem
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Shem » 31 Dec 2018, 17:09

D.A. Ridgely wrote:
31 Dec 2018, 15:44
Shem wrote:
31 Dec 2018, 14:07
To be honest, if I could build my time machine to the 1990's I would vote GOP in 1998. In a strange way, that would be the woke course of action, and on this matter I have become more woke. I regret standing by the powerful man who slept with an intern. It's true that she said "yes" rather than "no", and that "yes" does mean something, but the power differential means far more.
And I think removal from office for coercing a subordinate into sex was warranted, and am still irritated that Bill gets a pass for it. But the fact of the Starr investigation means you can't really credibly say that "get him use the courts he ain't our guy" is some looming threat rather than a decades-old status quo.
Is there any evidence of coercion or are you thinking of someone other than Lewinsky?
I don't believe it's possible for a 22-year-old intern to meaningfully consent to her boss the President without a degree of coercion inherent to the situation. It's like the skit from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia about inviting women on your boat planning to ask them for sex because of The Implication.
JasonL wrote:
31 Dec 2018, 16:13
I lean much closer to the direct payments view, and I think it's very difficult for a lot of people to divest themselves sufficiently to satisfy that set of conditions.
Perhaps the presidency warrants that degree of difficulty. If you want to be the most powerful person in the world, but you can't be bothered to fulfill a step we'd demand of pretty much any other bureaucratic post, perhaps you're not dedicated enough to the demands of the job to hold it? I mean, if I can't even be a precinct captain because the Hatch Act says no, maybe insisting a billionaire stop it with the appearance of impropriety (to say nothing of actual impropriety) isn't an unfair hardship? Just saying.
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thoreau
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by thoreau » 31 Dec 2018, 17:28

Keep in mind that impeaching and removing would require that fourteen or more Republican Senators find Trump's conduct to be completely unacceptable. That only happens if Trump alienates their voters or we wind up in some pipe dream where they have backbones and integrity. (Yeah, I know.) If the public won't turn on Trump, and Senators from the ruling party can't make the case to their supporters, then I guess we're going down a very dangerous road. The fault, dear citizens, lies not in our stars but in ourselves, that we make ourselves underlings to dangerous populists.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Jennifer » 31 Dec 2018, 17:50

JasonL wrote:
31 Dec 2018, 16:13
Nice sentiment, maybe stronger than what I think is the case, nowhere near enough to throw out an elected person in itself. I lean much closer to the direct payments view, and I think it's very difficult for a lot of people to divest themselves sufficiently to satisfy that set of conditions.
So you think it was unnecessary for Carter to put his peanut farm in a blind trust? And all the other divestments which pre-Trump POTUSes engaged in were also unnecessary, you think?
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Andrew » 31 Dec 2018, 18:02

If only Trump had been smart enough to form the Trump Global Initiative non-profit.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by JasonL » 31 Dec 2018, 18:10

Jennifer wrote:
31 Dec 2018, 17:50
JasonL wrote:
31 Dec 2018, 16:13
Nice sentiment, maybe stronger than what I think is the case, nowhere near enough to throw out an elected person in itself. I lean much closer to the direct payments view, and I think it's very difficult for a lot of people to divest themselves sufficiently to satisfy that set of conditions.
So you think it was unnecessary for Carter to put his peanut farm in a blind trust? And all the other divestments which pre-Trump POTUSes engaged in were also unnecessary, you think?
They are strong commitments to avoid conflicts but I don't know that I'd be asking for Carter's resignation if he retained a family trust over his peanut farm, no.

And, guys, I do understand what you are saying. You can basically mirror thoreau's comments about understanding my concerns about perceived legitimacy but put me on the other side of which one I worry more about. My sense is the best remedy is to let normal politics and political cycles play out unless you have to.

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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Jadagul » 31 Dec 2018, 18:34

There's a level-of-analysis issue here.

If you ask me whether the Democratic Congress should file articles of impeachment on January 4, I would say no. It would be a tactical error, and it would create strains on the system by looking by a Democratic refusal to accept not having won the presidency.

But if Trump's approval rating were at 20%, and the median Republican Senator thought he should be impeached, that would be a good thing. That's the scenario under which impeachment isn't a strain on norms and institutions. It's also the scenario under which impeachment leads to removal.

Trump going the way of Nixon would be good. Trump going the way of Clinton would not be.

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thoreau
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by thoreau » 31 Dec 2018, 18:36

What Jadagul said.

(I just don't know what to say to myself.)
"They were basically like D&D min maxers, but instead of pissing off their DM, they destroyed the global economy. Also, instead of their DM making a level 7 paladin fight a beholder as punishment, he got a +3 sword of turning."
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by JasonL » 31 Dec 2018, 18:42

I think I also don’t know what to say to myself. That sounds about right. I’m using the strength of a commonly agreed upon case for harm as a proxy for at least some defection. Going forward with a flyer will strengthen him if it fails and cause legitimacy concerns if it somehow scrapes through. I’d rather let nearly all gray be adjudicated in elections.

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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by thoreau » 31 Dec 2018, 19:12

My other fear with Trump, no matter how he leaves office and no matter what punishments he does/doesn't face, is that when it's all over the GOP will just tell themselves "Clearly, the problem was that he just wasn't conservative enough!" That might actually be true, by some definitions of the term "conservative," but not so much by modern usage.

To wit, the man has:
-Cut taxes.
-Not cut military spending.
-Run/neglected the regulatory state in a way that might not always satisfy libertarians but certainly isn't making any Democrats happy.
-Appointed conservative judges.
-Cracked down on immigration.
-Generally catered to Fox News every chance he gets.

All of these things are wholly acceptable to modern conservatives.

There are really only 3 ways he's sinned against conservatism:
-His personal life and conduct, but it doesn't seem to hurt his approval rating with putative religious conservatives.
-The withdrawal from Syria isn't satisfying for a lot of hawks, but the GOP base still has a strain of isolationism in it. Not so much a pacifist view of isolationism, more of a "screw those people" view that makes them willing to follow a tough leader who wants to withdraw. (Though they'll also follow a tough leader who wants to kick some ass.)
-Trade war. This one is a harder sell to economic conservatives.

So two of his three sins against conservatism are forgivable. Nonetheless, I fear that the GOP will look back at Trump and say "You know what the problem was? He didn't double down enough!"
"They were basically like D&D min maxers, but instead of pissing off their DM, they destroyed the global economy. Also, instead of their DM making a level 7 paladin fight a beholder as punishment, he got a +3 sword of turning."
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 31 Dec 2018, 19:14

Shem wrote:
31 Dec 2018, 17:09
D.A. Ridgely wrote:
31 Dec 2018, 15:44
Shem wrote:
31 Dec 2018, 14:07
To be honest, if I could build my time machine to the 1990's I would vote GOP in 1998. In a strange way, that would be the woke course of action, and on this matter I have become more woke. I regret standing by the powerful man who slept with an intern. It's true that she said "yes" rather than "no", and that "yes" does mean something, but the power differential means far more.
And I think removal from office for coercing a subordinate into sex was warranted, and am still irritated that Bill gets a pass for it. But the fact of the Starr investigation means you can't really credibly say that "get him use the courts he ain't our guy" is some looming threat rather than a decades-old status quo.
Is there any evidence of coercion or are you thinking of someone other than Lewinsky?
I don't believe it's possible for a 22-year-old intern to meaningfully consent to her boss the President without a degree of coercion inherent to the situation. It's like the skit from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia about inviting women on your boat planning to ask them for sex because of The Implication.
Yeah, that's what I figured. I'd give odds that she was the predictor, though, and that it took enormous and rare self-restraint on Bill's part to stop at a blow job and, literally, dipping his cigar when she was angling for a "Guess who fucked the president?" story probably from day one.

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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Highway » 31 Dec 2018, 19:45

thoreau wrote:
31 Dec 2018, 19:12
My other fear with Trump, no matter how he leaves office and no matter what punishments he does/doesn't face, is that when it's all over the GOP will just tell themselves "Clearly, the problem was that he just wasn't conservative enough!" That might actually be true, by some definitions of the term "conservative," but not so much by modern usage.

To wit, the man has:
-Cut taxes.
-Not cut military spending.
-Run/neglected the regulatory state in a way that might not always satisfy libertarians but certainly isn't making any Democrats happy.
-Appointed conservative judges.
-Cracked down on immigration.
-Generally catered to Fox News every chance he gets.

All of these things are wholly acceptable to modern conservatives.

There are really only 3 ways he's sinned against conservatism:
-His personal life and conduct, but it doesn't seem to hurt his approval rating with putative religious conservatives.
-The withdrawal from Syria isn't satisfying for a lot of hawks, but the GOP base still has a strain of isolationism in it. Not so much a pacifist view of isolationism, more of a "screw those people" view that makes them willing to follow a tough leader who wants to withdraw. (Though they'll also follow a tough leader who wants to kick some ass.)
-Trade war. This one is a harder sell to economic conservatives.

So two of his three sins against conservatism are forgivable. Nonetheless, I fear that the GOP will look back at Trump and say "You know what the problem was? He didn't double down enough!"
He has been exactly what the current average republican wants, policy-wise. And I don't think those 3 sins are anything that they care about at all, except as a bludgeon against people they want to beef with. Religious conservatives have always excused their own while hammering "amoral" liberals. Even the trade wars are highly supported by everyone except the magazine column writers.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by thoreau » 31 Dec 2018, 19:53

Highway wrote:
31 Dec 2018, 19:45
He has been exactly what the current average republican wants, policy-wise. And I don't think those 3 sins are anything that they care about at all, except as a bludgeon against people they want to beef with. Religious conservatives have always excused their own while hammering "amoral" liberals. Even the trade wars are highly supported by everyone except the magazine column writers.
Agreed. Nonetheless, when this thing comes to whatever bad end that it comes to, they will tell themselves that the REAL PROBLEM is that he just wasn't conservative enough. And so the epistemic closure will continue.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Mo » 31 Dec 2018, 19:58

JasonL wrote:Nice sentiment, maybe stronger than what I think is the case, nowhere near enough to throw out an elected person in itself. I lean much closer to the direct payments view, and I think it's very difficult for a lot of people to divest themselves sufficiently to satisfy that set of conditions. I think disclosure of conflicts is good and proper but I don't see them as preemptively disqualifying and there's no precedent for that so you'd be doing it just for this guy in the eyes of a lot of people.
Tough shit. No one has the right to be president. If you can’t divest enough where any corporation would find a CEO’s similar outside activities problematic, then maybe you shouldn’t be president. It’s the same reason we don’t want Fed members playing the stock market.

There’s no precedent for anyone losing their job over it because there’s no precedent for someone so entangled in business interests. There’s no precedent for throwing out a president self-pardoning, but I would sure as shit call for impeachment over that.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by JasonL » 01 Jan 2019, 09:34

Would you have impeached Carter if he had put peanut farm in family trust.

To be clear, my concern has nothing to do with fairness to the person seeking office. It has to do with the significance to voters of that party having won an election.

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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Mo » 01 Jan 2019, 09:38

Depends. As I said ah commodities are a bit different. If he was just selling in bulk to the wholesale market at market prices, there’s no issue. Like if Trump had a domestic oil company, and just sold his production at spot rates, I would have no issue. If he started getting mineral rights from other nations, that he was not getting prior to his election, I would demand he sell, resign or get removed.
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How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Mo » 01 Jan 2019, 09:39

JasonL wrote:Would you have impeached Carter if he had put peanut farm in family trust.

To be clear, my concern has nothing to do with fairness to the person seeking office. It has to do with the significance to voters of that party having won an election.
If he shot someone on 5th Avenue, we shouldn’t remove him because it would hurt MAGA-heads feels? Why even have removal in the fucking Constitution then?

ETA: Also, candidate Trump promised to separate himself from his business.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by JasonL » 01 Jan 2019, 10:51

He didn't shoot someone and candidates lie all the time. It's not maga feels is the significance of administrative removal overriding electoral outcomes. We should be hesitant to override electoral outcomes. I'd not have impeached Carter for using a family trust on the peanut farm.

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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by thoreau » 01 Jan 2019, 12:45

JasonL wrote:
01 Jan 2019, 10:51
I'd not have impeached Carter for using a family trust on the peanut farm.
Neither would I. Things done out of "an abundance of caution" are rarely necessary for the situation at hand, but are desirable because they provide helpful guidance for more significant situations. Foreign diplomats choosing Trump's hotel over the competition are a more significant problem than the typical family peanut farm selling commodities on the open market.

Now, if Carter's farm had accepted a "special discount" on fertilizer at the same time that his administration was considering regulatory moves that could affect the fortunes of the fertilizer manufacturer, and then he made decisions favorable to the fertilizer company? Or if a peanut butter manufacturer decides on a "special partnership" with his farm right when his administration is considering moves that could affect the parent conglomerate? Yeah, impeach.

EDIT: It's nuts that we're even discussing "Would we have impeached Jimmy Carter?" scenarios.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Mo » 01 Jan 2019, 12:57

JasonL wrote:He didn't shoot someone and candidates lie all the time. It's not maga feels is the significance of administrative removal overriding electoral outcomes. We should be hesitant to override electoral outcomes. I'd not have impeached Carter for using a family trust on the peanut farm.
Shouldn’t we also be hesitant to turning a blind eye to ignoring constitutional restrictions on members of the government. We don’t let flag burning laws stand just because doing so overrides electoral outcomes and “the will of the people”.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Andrew » 01 Jan 2019, 15:08

I think the requirement of 2/3 of the Senate to convict and remove addresses the worry about upsetting electoral outcomes. If the prez has lost 2/3 of the Senate, that's a strong indicator of having lost popular mandate in a big way.

I think a grand jury indicting an orange ham sandwich creates much bigger concerns.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 01 Jan 2019, 15:13

A bit of context.

There isn't much readily accessible case law or commentary on elected officials or separation of powers issues, and though I think it's clear Congress could not but the Supreme Court could impose blind trust type restrictions on the President and Vice President, a Constitutional amendment would be the preferred solution. It would have the added benefit of keeping a certain sort of billionaire from aspiring to public office, too.

I don't know history well enough to know if there is evidence of presidents prior to the modern era directly or indirectly using the mere fact of their office for significant personal enrichment but it certainly wouldn't surprise me if they did. Bill Clinton infamously argued that there is no evidence he ever made a decision solely for personal financial gain, but there's an underlying political realism about that argument. Doing well while doing good is hardly a new concept in Washington.

Anyway, back to MAGA. I have yet to read solid evidence that Trump has committed high crimes and misdemeanors sufficient to warrant impeachment and removal and, like others, I fear the practical results of impeachment with or without removal may be too high a price to pay for a presidency that is nearly half over if the Democrats actually care about winning in 2020. That said, I think there is abundant evidence that Trump is psychologically unfit and that any qualified clinical diagnostician would find abundant DSM-V grounds to base a 25th Amendment removal on. I also think if enough Republicans thought it through and/or had any political gumption extending beyond their own reelection, they'd realize it would be less harmful than impeachment. Trump isn't crazy because of his policies; he's just crazy. At least some of the Trumpenproletariat would understand that, and damage control is the best one could hope for in this case. Of course, the down side is "President Pence" with an ipso facto stronger chance of running for two more terms after completing Trump's first term. Not a pretty prospect by any measure.

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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Aresen » 01 Jan 2019, 16:04

Andrew wrote:
01 Jan 2019, 15:08
I think the requirement of 2/3 of the Senate to convict and remove addresses the worry about upsetting electoral outcomes. If the prez has lost 2/3 of the Senate, that's a strong indicator of having lost popular mandate in a big way.
Bingo. If 1/3 of the GOP Senators are willing to risk being primaried by the Trump loyalists, Trump has no mandate.

My biggest concern about impeachment is that it will fuel an ongoing sense of grievance among the MAGA types: That the Librul Commie Elite done robbed 'em and it's all a conspiracy 'gainst 'Murika. I prefer Trump loses in 2020 - even if it's by 270 - 268. Impeachment only if he does something that actually risks the survival of the republic.
I think a grand jury indicting an orange ham baloney sandwich creates much bigger concerns.
FIFY
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