The problem of getting rid of powerful bad people
“I have switched off radio ABC local and RN entirely”, posted my friend Jen Jewel Brown yesterday. “Poetica, Hindsight, The Book Show, Bush Telegraph—fine, fascinating radio programs run over by the Guthrie machine…Our amazing public broadcaster is racing towards the cliff of irrelevance. Elders are spurned. There is respect only for inoffensiveness…Get rid of her before the entire organisation goes down the drain.”
This sounded like what’s happening in America—not to their public radio but to their whole nation. And while Ms Guthrie might be offended (or thrilled, who knows?) at being compared to Trump, the level at which they are demolishing their respective enterprises is equivalent, as is the fact that they each serve the interests of ultra-wealthy corporates determined to squash anyone who isn’t one of them, or a minion.
Jen concluded her post with the question: “Are the board sitting on their hands? Do they back all this cultural carnage?”
It is theoretically possible that the ABC board might be persuaded to at least rein Guthrie in, but in the USA, there in is no board, no way to rein Trump in.
The US is run by an anarchic gang of warlords, most of them corporates who take turns running government departments between their business jobs, and none of them is committed to factoring the common good in their battle plans, let alone accepting responsibility for it. The US Congress and most state governments have been expropriated by these wealthy interest groups.
Members of this corporatocracy reach consensus on many smallish issues, such as tax cuts for the wealthy or benefit cuts for the poor, and occasionally they concur about big decisions—such as, Nixon must go, or, we must pretend to care about guns—but even those coalesced notions won't turn into action unless several dozen unpredictable factors align.
At this moment, the United States Special Counsel Robert Mueller has demanded (as he can) documents from Trump’s corporations to see if they, or Trump himself, have made deals with foreign entities to enrich themselves, which a President is not supposed to do. Mueller is also on the brink of requiring Trump to submit to being interviewed about his business and political dealings with Putin’s government, et al, just like President Clinton was obliged to do regarding his sexual relations with a member of his staff.
The odds are that Trump will either fire Mueller, like Nixon did to his Special Prosecutor on Watergate, or simply refuse to answer questions.
Meanwhile, Trump’s government of military men and various ex-White House staff and ex-FBI veterans, are saying extraordinary things—things that alarm the corporate elite and the media and academia communities they manage, but not yet to consensus point.
This is a statement by Andrew McCabe, Deputy Director of the FBI, whom Trump fired last Friday, two days before he would have qualified for a pension honouring his 21 years investigating threats to US national security: “[Trump’s] attack on my credibility is not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally. It is part of this Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation... (See his full statement here https://tinyurl.com/y8323w52)
Trump’s national security advisor, Army Lt. General H R McMaster, wrote this: “The president was lying, and he expected the [US military] Chiefs to lie as well or, at least, to withhold the whole truth. Although the president should not have placed the Chiefs in that position, the flag officers should not have tolerated it when he had.” This extraordinary assessment was in a book McMaster wrote about Generals who protected the lies of President L B Johnson during the war on Vietnam. General McMaster himself is doing exactly that today, apparently with insufficient cravenness for his President, Donald Trump, who has launched a tweet campaign to undermine McMaster preparatory to firing him.
And another meanwhile: last week, a Democratic candidate won a by-election in a Pennsylvania district Trump won in 2016 by 20%, bringing the number of Democratic wins in state and federal elections since the presidential election to around 50.
Remember that registered Democratic Party voters outnumber Republicans 32% to 22%, and independents outnumber both at 44%—and at this point, 95% of Democrats, 20% of Republicans and 65% of independents don’t approve of him (Gallup).
Does this mean Trump will be dumped?
Only if and when there are enough players amongst the warlord community who see removing him as a better option than letting him keep smashing every government department other than Defence, and only if they can live with the Christian crusader Vice-President Mike Pence as President, and only if the anti-Trump citizenry frighten the elite more than the ever-shrinking coterie of Trump die-hards do.
The most frightening of all citizens’ groups, for the warlords, are the teenagers now rallying nationwide to demand a say in preventing young born-in-the-USA white men from spraying them with automatic weapon fire in their classrooms. Along with #MeToo, these citizens’ movements threaten the masters of the universe not just because they demand decision-making roles for youth and women, but even more because of their rhizomatic form, meaning they are connected underground and cooperate while retaining their separate agency, as do ginger, iris and violets. They spread rapidly, have no essential central control point, and are very hard to uproot.
The biggest impediment to America’s ruling community reaching a consensus as momentous as dumping Trump is that the laws for replacing a President are antiquated, tortuous, and time-consuming. Also, part of such a consensus could be that Pence would be required to quit immediately he became President, because he’s a religious nut and a pawn of the Koch brothers. And then there’s the problem that figuring out who would be legally entitled to replace him is harder than deconstructing Bitcoin.
Even the provisions for dumping a President who’s mentally incapable won’t work (as I detailed in a post on this site eight weeks ago) unless the Democrats win just about every Congressional seat up for election in November. The possibility that they might is now almost worth considering, and in another glimmer of hope for Democrats, the women on my list of potential Democratic Presidential candidates for 2020 (in a post here last moth) are getting more media time every day.
Final meanwhile for the week: what can we do about our own budding corporatocracy, which is catching up with America’s by the minute. Just two weeks ago Woolworths’ representatives (aka Liberals) won another term running Tasmania, with new rules that will make the pokie party funders even more rich and powerful. Woolworths, which is the second largest revenue-earning company in Australia, owns more poker machines than any other gambling outfit in the country. Their most powerful opponent in Tasmania is the extraordinarily successful gambler-turned-gallerist David Walsh. The Labor Party and the Greens both oppose pokies these days, but they were outspent in the election by as much as 10 to one. The fact that they also oppose each other didn’t help their common cause.