Revolted Colonies

U.S. Politics and Culture

Tag: White House

The Kegger Plays His Trump Card

Yesterday’s meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee predictably satisfied the expectations of political junkies, #metoo activists and garden-variety voyeurs. The crowd also experienced the rare surprise of the cool and collected Brett Kavanaugh putting on his angry Trump face for the galleries and the folks at home. Trump’s Justice in utero wasn’t going to go out without a Trumpian rant.

Kegger spent several days in White House captivity, mastering the Trump playbook. He roared about the Democrats’ chicanery, lamented that his days of teaching and coaching girls’ sports may be over, and raged that the coveted prize, a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court was being pulled out of his hands. He didn’t use the words “rigged” or “witch hunt,” and he wept and cursed his fate. Otherwise, it was unvarnished Trump-speak. Trump’s hand was up the Kegger’s back, moving his lips and waving his arms.

The Republican senators had hired Rachel Mitchell, an able and experienced sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona, to question accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in their stead. Mitchell took each majority members’ five-minute segment in the Ford questioning, and she was scheduled to do the same with the Kegger. However, chairman Grassley and his bloc, fortified by the nominee’s new-found belligerence, decided to take back the microphone.

First up, Lindsey Graham (R-NC) lay the groundwork for the rest of the afternoon. Turning away from the judge, he fixed his pole axe on his Democratic colleagues.

“This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics and if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you’ve done to this guy!”

His target was his friend, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who bore the brunt of accusations that she held back Ford’s accusation until after Kavanaugh’s first hearing finished.
At long last, the combatants dismissed Ford and Kavanaugh, the proxies for the war between the statesmen. The Repubs were in high dudgeon over the Dems’ treatment of Kavanaugh, and the Dems were tacitly taking their revenge for their rivals’ dismissal of Merrick Garland in 2016 – and for a bagful of other indignities and slights.

The public got to see what kind of shit show we’ve enabled in the halls of government. Blame everybody — we’ve demanded winner-take-all politics, and now we have it. The Democrats led by former Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) set this in motion by eliminating the filibuster in connection with judicial appointments below the Supreme Court level This reduced the vote to a simple majority. When Mitch McConnell (R-TN) extended the rule to Supreme Court confirmation, the nuclear option, the stage was set for extreme appointees who did not require bipartisan support.

In 2016 Merrick Garland was put forward by Barack Obama, a centrist judge who previously had garnered the approval of both parties. He did this to dare the Republican house to gamble on the outcome of the presidential election.  McConnell, in complete control of the Senate, refused even to consider his nomination, rolling the dice that, if Clinton had won, he could always activate Garland’s nomination. With Trump in the White House and a Republican majority in the Senate, McConnell has been rolling sevens, judicially speaking. The Democrats, outmaneuvered, lament lifting the filibuster in the first place.

Dick Durbin (D-IL) had predicted in January that ending the filibuster would be the “end of the Senate,” as we know it. Yesterday, he lamented that his prediction had come true.

“It’s interesting, a Republican senator this morning in the gym raised the same question with me. And I said, ‘I think we’re learning our lesson here.’ That eliminating the filibuster on the Supreme Court at least, and maybe the other federal positions, has really created a much more political process. It is better for us to move toward with something that is bipartisan and try to find more moderate people to serve on our federal judiciary.”

Good luck with that. It’s a great aspiration but no one in this Senate presently will lead the institution out of its quagmire. So much needs to be unwound to return to lower-case d democracy in our politics. The Senate and House must reclaim their preeminent places in our government, and the imperial presidency, begun long before Trump, must be contained. These changes require the Supreme Court to recognize congressional primacy, and Brett Kavanaugh won’t let that happen — unless his puppeteer loses the White House.

Trump 1600: Plan to Dismantle the White House

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Trump 1600 – Artist’s Rendering

The Plan

It’s either brilliant or the height of arrogance. Six weeks ahead of the election, the Trump Organization has submitted a building plan to the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development to repurpose the White House. Eric Trump has taken the lead on project code-named Trump 1600, which is part of the overall the Trump Office Administration Development (TOAD). The plans call for the ground floor to stay “commercial.” The upper floors will be left intact, and they will raise the roof. A 25-story penthouse tower will soar above the existing residence, with views of Virginia, Maryland, and the “Historic District Skyline.” The northern wall of the tower will boast enormous bay windows to echo the famous portico. Eric Trump indicated that he “knows a guy” and has been promised that the plan review will go ahead so that “we are shovel-ready on day one.”

Cease and Desist

The National Park Service has taken immediate steps to halt review of the plan. It’s filed for a cease and desist order against the D.C.H.C.D. However, the Superior Court denied the motion, ruling that the Park Service had no standing for any development above the top of the White House.

“The owner of air rights over the said dwelling, be it publicly or privately owned, is vested with an interest superior to that of any other party, including the federal government,” said Superior Court Judge Bertha Denier in a brief opinion. “This is especially the case when the holder of those rights has submitted plans that are terrific and will make the location the biggest and most spectacular Presidential Resort in the world. It will be huge,” the court concluded.

Judge Denier refused to comment on her ruling. It is reported that she declined to stay review pending appeal, as she was en route to Mar-a-Lago for her reelection fund-raiser.

 Compounding Interest

At the same time, Trump Organization lawyers have filed for eminent domain of Lafayette Park and Blair House. They also have filed an unsolicited sealed bid to buy the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for private development. The proposed name is the Trump District District. It will offer a high-rise of sixty-four floors of “the world’s most amazing condominiums, overlooking the Trump Marquis de Lafayette Golf Club, consisting of a clubhouse and the most challenging three-hole course in the Western Hemisphere.”  A draft prospectus certifies that the bunkers will be “100% American sand.”

The present West Wing would become a museum dedicated to the memory of the Presidency with the Oval Office becoming a virtual reality exhibition. Customers will experience the feeling of being President by playing one on TV.

The Rest of the Plan

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The proposed Florida White House

If elected, Trump would keep one of the penthouses available for his occasional visits. Trump will open his primary office in Mar-a-Lago, his Florida residence, with the rest of the West Wing operation in a nearby strip mall leased from a Trump donor. The rest of the executive branch will work out of an existing government building a few minutes by air from the putative Florida White House. Rather than bring in private contractors, the Trumps will use a government labor force to convert the existing prison at Guantanamo Bay into a warren of executive offices with overflow for rental. Acres that have been neglected for decades would be put out to bid for beach front development under a 99-year lease. The plan includes an elaborate common area provisionally named the Bertha Denier Clubhouse.

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Site of the new Executive Branch

Universal Backlash

Almost everyone in the country is outraged by at least some part of TOAD. In addition to the Park Service  lawsuit, the A.C.L.U. plans to file to stop the loss of Lafayette Park as a site for assembly and protest. The National Heritage Conservancy has fast-tracked recognition of the White House as a landmark of historic significance. Many groups have joined in a mass filing with the D.C. Zoning Commission to limit the redevelopment of the White House to five stories. This would make TOAD unprofitable.

The proposed relocation of the Presidential headquarters has drawn international scorn as well. Trump is the first private citizen to be censured by the United Nations General Assembly. Al Qaeda and ISIS have threatened reprisals if a Trump-led U.S. follows through on the plan to recast the Cuban prison as a government enclave and pleasure palace. Eric Trump uncharacteristically tried to appease those enraged by his plan.

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Happy Government Laborers

“All workers will get first-class meals and comfortable lodgings as long as the project lasts. Their efforts will be recognized,” said Eric Trump.  Then he held up the sign to be affixed to each building: “This House Was Built by Enemy Combatants.”

 

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