I’m back to my version of live blogging which means I’m writing an op-ed the day before publishing, (most often the morning before). Predicting what is going to happen in the Trump era is almost as impossible as accurately writing about the 23rd century. Tuesday, January 15th promises to be a big news day. I’d like to briefly comment on four topics of the day: Brexit, the Trump Shutdown 3.0, Steve King and Bill Barr. Let’s explore.
I’m past predicting when the shutdown will end but here are two dates that could be chokepoints: January 25th and January 29th. Friday the 25th would mark the second consecutive payday that government workers would receive paystubs reflecting a net pay of $0.00. The optics of that are terrible, not to mention the human toll and stress on the economy. (Trump and/or Mitch McConnell may care about the optics.)
Tuesday January 29th is the State of the Union. How does Trump tell Congress the state of the union is strong if the federal government is shut down? What kind of protests will there be? What will the Congressional reception and their deportment be? Can Trump’s fragile ego take “criticism” in whatever form(s) it might take?
Those dates may seem far off, but this shutdown has almost everyone perplexed. In reality it never should have happened in the first place. Trump or McConnell could solve it very quickly if either chose to. That lends some credence to the theory that some on the right actually are viewing this as a punishment for the “Deep State” and part of the reduce government to the point it can be drowned in a bathtub theory. If either is true we are in even deeper trouble than I thought!
Mid-afternoon (EST) today we should have the results of the UK’s Parliament vote on the current Brexit proposal. I’m not going to make a definitive prediction on that either. To say the situation is complicated and will have massive global economic repercussions is a huge understatement. The Brits have painted themselves into a corner with no good options. For some time my suggestion has been to declare the original referendum tainted by Russian meddling and hold a new one. I am far from an expert on UK politics, but it appears that a sizeable minority still favor Brexit. That being said I feel a new referendum would produce a different result. If that were to happen the biggest loser would be Vladimir Putin; conversely if the UK were to leave the EU the biggest winner would be Vladimir Putin.
The Republicans have a Steve King problem. The Representative from Iowa is a racist and has done little to hide that fact. His recent remarks came at a bad time for a party that just got killed in the mid-term and their prospects for 2020 aren’t looking good at the moment. Large portions of their base are racists and they cannot afford to alienate them. However, they cannot win general elections in enough places when they make it apparent that the party is largely racist.
House Republican leadership has stripped King of his committee assignments. This was a blow to both King and Trump. King sat on the House Judiciary Committee. That is the committee where impeachment proceedings will start. (I feel that is inevitable at this point.) King would have been one of, if not, Trump’s most vocal defenders. Resolutions reprimanding King will be introduced (and most likely passed) in the House. They are little more than an embarrassment for King. The House has the power to remove him but I doubt that will happen and if it did it would be largely meaningless; his district would simply elect another racist. (Gerrymandering has multiple effects.) Taking his committee assignments away from him is the most effective punishment. His district has a voting member of the House, so it has representation; but since he doesn’t sit on any committees and his party is in the minority he is largely insignificant.
Bottom line: Bill Barr will be confirmed as the next Attorney General of the United States of America. What he will actually do in that position is anyone’s guess. There will be some “tough questioning” before the Senate Judiciary Committee today but in the end it will all be for show. The AG position is not like a Supreme Court slot where there is no compelling need to let Trump fill it. Matthew Whitaker is the Acting AG and is totally unacceptable (in addition to being unqualified and under FBI investigation). He has to be replaced and Barr previously served as Attorney General.
Well there you have it. Two situations that I have no ideas what their outcome will be and two where I’d bet on my prediction. May I live in boring times before I die.
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