Off the rails

Off the rails

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Everything about this travesty of a regime is unprecedented. From the way it assumed power to how it has conducted itself. But last night something even more remarkable happened: the military head, in no uncertain terms, told the putative Commander in Chief to go Bannon himself.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis defied Donald Trump, putting a hold on Moron Hitler's transgender ban pending a study. Over the weekend, you had Rex Tillerson forcefully condemning neo-Nazis, and saying that Trump spoke only for himself. As the graphic at the head of this piece indicates, legislators in the president's* party already see it as a failed regime.

But let's zero in on Sec. Mattis. I'm no highly-paid historian like our very own Rational Left, but I do consume history as an avocation. And I can remember no time in US history where a cabinet member—especially the one responsible for the nation's military—has openly defied his supposed commander-in-chief in this way.

What Trump ordered was a full ban on transgendered military personnel. He wanted them out, posthaste. Mattis' only job was to develop a policy to cashier them. Instead, Mattis basically told Moron Hitler that he'd take his request under advisement, and set up one of those famous "studies" which will last until the blowing of the trumpets.

On the one hand, we're all rejoicing that it seems that Mattis wants no truck with Trump's baseless bigotry. But, on the other hand, this turn of events should give us pause.

Civilian control of the military is one of the bedrocks of our constitutional system. It has held firm for over two centuries. Even massively popular generals like Douglas MacArthur discovered to their dismay that their power didn't exceed that of their civilian president.

Here we have the defense chief telling his putative boss to go pound sand. And, as of this writing, he still has a job. In a year of the "unpresidented", this is the most unprecedented thing to occur.

And then, of course, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson basically saying that his boss doesn't speak for the country when he speaks about there being "fine people" among the Nazis is also gobsmacking. He, too, still has a job.

Donald Trump had every intention of transforming the presidency into a dictatorship. What he has in fact done is hollow it out, leak away its power. Everyone in his administration is freelancing. You have the military tabling a direct order. You have diplomats assuring governments that his words mean nothing. He has his Praetorian Guard in ICE, but they're still woefully underfunded, and it doesn't seem as if Congress will pony up any significant increase in monies to create the vaunted Deportation Force. He is, quite simply, destroying the power of the executive branch through his incompetence and malfeasance.

Have State and Defense, finally taking their oaths to protect the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, finally seen that Trump is that enemy? It is one reasonable assumption to make.

With the House in the hands of supine lickspittles to Donald Trump's anus, impeachment is still a dim prospect. The legislative branch is as broken as the executive. The Republic's salvation may lay in the hands of a retired general. I don't know whether to cheer or mourn.

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