John Chuckman



“Trump signs bill to end US government shutdown

“Temporary measure does not include border wall funds demanded by president” The Financial Times


It is hard to understand how anyone keeps any faith in this man.

Here he is, once again, playing the coward, and doing so over his own key issue.

All the bluster and noise over a wall just disappear like air being let out of a balloon. Just days ago, there were public threat-promises from America’s man-child president that things would stay closed a very long time.

Of course, it just happens that recent public opinion on the government’s closing tends to blame Trump, so he has effectively bowed out.

Just which side would be blamed for the embarrassing conflict has always been the key political issue, not any matter of “principle.”

There is no principle involved in shutting down the government beyond the already well-established one of the United States not being capable of governing its own affairs.

But this was Trump’s red-meat issue for his “trailer park, NASCAR, Walmart, gun show” political base, and he has just effectively abandoned them.

With his failures to do anything meaningful about reduced war in the Middle East or improved relations with Russia, matters that gave him votes he would not have otherwise have received in 2016, he lost the crossover vote that put him over the top. (see FOOTNOTE). Now, we can add offending his political base. He is going to be very vulnerable in 2020.

I shouldn’t exclude the frenetic and crazed possibility of his declaring some kind of national emergency after the agreed weeks of consultation with Congress, but that would be a mighty big step into the unknown, and it is fraught with political and other consequences and legal challenges. Still, of course, anything is possible for this genuinely chaotic figure, but I tend to doubt he will take things that way after the experience of effective political defeat in the shut-down.

He will be vulnerable, of course, if he makes it to 2020. I tend to doubt his impeachment, but resignation in the face of a mass of charges, revelations, and anger – whether related to Russia or not – might be a real possibility. The “coward factor” would come into play.

Impeachment, as we saw with Clinton, is just a huge, expensive, and tedious effort, one neither party welcomes unless they see a real political advantage to be gained.

The votes against him just do not exist in the Senate to start with, and they are the only votes that count. There would have to be the clearest criminal behavior established for Republicans to vote substantially for conviction, the Constitution requiring a two-thirds majority of the Senate to convict.

At any rate, this development of “the wall matter” gives the Democratic Party candidacy a new allure and excitement. I would expect that contest, pretty insipid so far, to heat up.

This, of course, is purely a political matter, not a matter of substance for the nation or the world. In the end, nothing in American politics is a matter of substance for people at home or abroad. The Democrats have just about as little to offer people as the Republicans. More war, more threats, more hatred against Russia, Iran, and China. More throwing away money on the military and invasive security. More mindless noise and propaganda.

In fact, the whole game of blaming Russia for Trump, which the Democrats have embraced from the beginning, contains exactly the promise of just those things.

There is one potential candidate of interest, Tulsi Gabbard, but she has about as much chance as I would have.

Apart from the fact that she comes from the politically insignificant state of Hawaii, forces are already at work tarring her with such gracious charges as being an “Assad toady,” that one, courtesy of the “liberal” New York Times. You see, as soon as you touch the Middle East and America’s Neocon Wars, Israel’s interests pop up, and the unblinking eyes of the Israel lobby in America take note and prepare.

That’s what you get in America for so much as talking to other people, especially abroad, and wanting to understand what is really going on. You are not supposed to ask real questions or to seek real answers. It’s un-American.

America actually is a very closed society, remarkably so when you consider all the accusations it levels against, say, China or Iran or Syria.

America preserves its closed nature through fairly intense social pressure, even public name-calling and shaming, constant propaganda, a politically-compliant press, and political bombast – these prove adequate most of the time.

But it also is not above the more heavy-handed methods of legal intimidation and police abuse. The whole history of the FBI, for example, from J. Edgar Hoover’s earliest dark activities right up through events around Trump’s election campaign, demonstrates that decisively.



When I say “the crossover vote” that put him over the in 2016, I do not mean to imply that he won a majority. He is, very much, a minority president, Hillary Clinton having won a few million more votes. And he is just one of a number of minority presidents in the history of American “democracy,” George Bush having been the last one. The Constitution’s provision of the rather bizarre Electoral College makes this always a possible outcome.

The Founding Fathers mostly did not like the idea of democracy and included a number of safeguards against it, the Electoral College being just one of them. The Founders were men of property, and they viewed democracy as carrying the threat of the mob voting the privileged out of their property.

That’s also why they insisted on calling America a republic, that least-defined of all political terms, meaning mainly that you did not have a king. Ironically, by the time of writing the American Constitution, a king like Britain’s had already lost most of his power to Parliament over centuries of change, so the distinction of a republic wasn’t great.

America has always given more weight to property and “economic freedom” than to political freedom. That’s what it really means when it speaks of “freedom” abroad in its various wars and interventions. It’s a built-in national prejudice, you might say. Democracy certainly is not. And economic freedom abroad means opportunity for American corporations. It becomes a way of building an empire while talking about freedom.

The immense importance of money in American elections was strengthened by a Supreme Court ruling that “money was equivalent to free speech.” Today with the immense amounts of campaign finance money required to compete (literally billions are spent in any presidential election year now), the existing political duopoly of Republicans and Democrats is firmly set. Along with that, the system approaches plutocracy since only very wealthy people and organizations can give in the required amounts.

Some of the Founders’ anti-democratic measures have been altered over a couple of centuries, as the Senate going from being appointed to being elected (not until 1913), but its complex, deliberately-calculated manner of election and many of its special voting rules render it still a pretty undemocratic body. The record of overwhelming re-election of incumbents, about 90%, plus some seats becoming almost hereditary emphasize this further. Given the fact that is the most powerful legislative body, by far, this is not an unimportant matter.

The Electoral College remains for at least two reasons. One, any change to the American Constitution is an immense undertaking. It was designed that way as yet another anti-democratic measure. The Electoral College system tends to give some additional importance and weight to the individual states, too, and many of them would be reluctant to give that up.

Under the system, you must win, not an overall majority – which of course would be democratic – but a majority in key local places. Since America’s election system is money-driven, there being virtually no limits on how much money you can use, money resources are then focused on these places. That was just what Trump did, so that the right local victories added up to an “Electoral College majority” and a total vote minority.

Posted January 27, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized


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