Friday, January 31, 2020

The last day of the month of the new year and the new decade. To quote someone sharper than me, if this represents the free trial for 2020 or, indeed, the ’20s, I’m not sure I want to sink anymore money into it. But here we are.

As you’ve no doubt heard, the United States Senate – the great deliberative body on Earth, we’re told by people we’re supposed to take seriously – voted against hearing any witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, breaking precedent. The vote went pretty much along party lines 51-49, with the only Republicans crossing the line being Mitt Romney and Susan Collins. This was pretty much inevitable since last night when retiring Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander made sure he’d get a fat lobbyist job and announced he would not vote to allow witnesses.

Once he’d announced that, it was done for, really. Alexander knows what side his bread is buttered on and he knows that American Conservatism means loyalty, indeed fealty to Trump. Mitt Romney is probably rich enough and entrenched in the Mormon power structure in Utah to be the new John McCain. The worst he’s getting is he’s been uninvited from the right-wing freak show and orgy that is CPAC, and they still hold it against him he lost to the black dude, anyway.

The only other possible deflectors were Collins in Maine and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, both of whom try to pretend they’re not party loyalists when contentious votes like this pops up. Collins position in Maine is probably shakier than her Alaskan counterpart, so Alexander’s announcement gave her some cover to pretend she wasn’t what she is.

None of this was in much doubt going into it, though a lot of people did hold out hope that the GOP wouldn’t announce its total capitulation like that. But, as we’ve said, this is where the Republican party has been leading its faithful since, at least, Reagan, molding them to be susceptible to a black hearted authoritarian who’d give the proper class its proper due and properly screw the untermenschen. That they didn’t see all that power going to a D-List celebrity and two-bit hustler who previously sold shrink-wrapped steaks and lost money on casinos is just part of the game. They have no one to blame but themselves. With that in mind, though, it seems they’ve accepted the new reality. This is what we are, the GOP is telling us, on your knees.

So, come Monday we’ll hear final deliberations on whether or not Trump is guilty of the impeachable offenses – corruption and covering up said corruption, mind – and a final vote is scheduled for Wednesday. Someone else pointed out that the defense for Trump rang hollow. They’re now claiming he did what he’s accused of but since it was in “America’s best interest,” it really doesn’t matter, even though they’ve spent the past three months screaming that what he’s admitted to didn’t happen. That’s politics, baby.

To celebrate, Trump announced another five countries for his Muslim ban and announced the first steps he’d be taking to gut Medicare and Social Security, because fuck you, that’s why. I doubt there’s much joy in Mudville tonight and few people think Wednesday’s vote will go anyway but how Trump wants it. I am, admittedly, somewhat surprised no Democrats jumped ship, particular Alabama’s Doug Jones and West Virginia’s loathsome Joe Manchin. Along with Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, they’ve made noises about acquitting Trump, no doubt hoping they wouldn’t get primaried. Jones especially barely squeaked out a win in 2017 and if he turns traitor for a piece of tail, as it were, he’ll get stomped into a mudhole by Jeff Sessions when it comes time.

In a twisted cosmic joke, today was also “Brexit Day”, the day when the United Kingdom formally removed itself from the European Union. Their version of right-wing jackboot lickers had their little cheer and cheap triumphalism. While I admittedly don’t follow this as close as I could and, thus, probably don’t have a solid grasp of the particulars, it’s always seemed to me that our British cousins never really meant for Brexit to happen, even the conservative yay-hoos who’ve been jerking off to it the past five years. Sort of like us getting Trump, neither side was really prepared to deal with reality after what was supposed to be a symbolic vote.

Tory Britain has been arguing since the vote past that their status within the EU, particularly the trade agreements, shouldn’t have to change just because they’re no longer actually part of said EU. For the most part, the rest of Europe is telling them to piss off and no one, but no one knows what things will look like 11 months from now when everything should be settled. It should be noted that Scotland and Northern Ireland were strongly in favor of staying in the EU. Given the push to succeed by the former and the only recently calmed “Troubles” in the latter, there’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish to sift through.

Now. Beyond the politics of the situation, beyond the crude confines of this material world, just what does all this mean. Mean for what? Democracy? Freedom? Rule of Law? Well… I don’t know. Such things are beyond me like true love, agape and chivalry. I am but a simple country lad who seeks little more out of this cruel ol’ world than a good book, a good smoke and a some peace and quiet. I have never put much stock in something I can’t physically kick down the road if need be. Nice ideas are nice ideas, but they don’t feed the pony.

The cold, hard politics of the matter is this is a victory for Trump, but because the game was rigged in his favor – Mitch McConnell had said as much before the trial even kicked into gear – how much a win is at question. No doubt, for both the Trump True Believers and the soi-disant Resistance, it really won’t move the needle. Not for Trump’s legacy nor for the upcoming elections, really. Those sides have long since been chosen and there’s nothing more to do than dig in and get nasty.

And that’s all I have for that, I guess. Part of the problem is I personally dislike prognostication of any type, especially in politics, and we’re still too deep in the big muddy to have a clear head about things. I’ll just say this one thing: it’s still nine months to November and that is four lifetimes in Washington.

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