Your Watergate

They are laughing at it on the Jimmy Kimmel show. The Apprentice star sacks the head of the FBI ‘live’.

This is incredible. If Trump isn’t impeached then America is spiralling out of control and nothing can really describe how unprecedented this is.

For the record I think they are already far down this road already and he will remain in power for some time. The idea of checks and balances is a liberal myth, a salve to soothe the disconsolate ego as the country moves from oligarchy to dictatorship.

This is like the Truman Show in reverse without a cheesy ending, with an electorate so confused befuddled and stoned on ‘fake news’ they’ll probably rush to his defence.

As John Cassidy writes: “With Comey out of the way, Trump can now pick his own man (or woman) to run the Bureau, and this person will have the authority to close down that investigation.”

This is a country now resting on the FBI as the progressive restraint on executive power.

There are allegedly – two Trump-Russia grand juries currently running.

Who knew?

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  1. Alan says:

    “The idea of checks and balances is a liberal myth”.

    I think that’s true in the UK but it’s a little harsh in the American context. America’s founding fathers took on Hume and Smith’s writings on the problems of factionalism (e.g. see Federalist Papers #10) and made some attempt to address the issue. So there is a system of checks and balances built in although shaped by the interests and limitations of the men who wrote the constitution (see Michael Klarman’s book). Just how effective the checks and balances are now is another question. In the US there are endless writings and debates on the rise of the administrative state (e.g. C. Wright Mills’ The Power Elite, Eisenhower’s Farewell Speech) and the imperial presidency (e.g. Arthur Schlesinger) and how the legislative and judicial branches are rolling over (but note what happened to Trump’s travel ban). Many of these anxieties stem from the expansion of executive power in the face of crises (the depression, WWII, Cold War, 9/11, 2008 financial crash, …). For more recent writings on this see Charlie Savage, Jack Goldsmith, Frederick Schwartz, Charles Fried, Andrew Bacevich, Michael Glennon. But note that there are anxieties about this (on both the Right and the Left), and there’s debate and argument. Where’s this argument in the UK? There is next to none. In America it’s a problem which is no surprise given the country’s birth and history.

    We should pay attention to the American experience with checks and balances because there’s a lot to be learned there. And because of the early Scottish influence. This is a country that said no to cap doffing to the British elite, broke away from British imperial power and tried to create a better and fairer system of government. They failed in many respects but there are lessons to be learned from what they tried, their failures, and attempts to address their failings. An independent Scotland will have factional problems just like everywhere else. There’s no Scottish exceptionalism. How will checks and balances be built into the system? This is something we should be debating now. Because when Scotland gains its independence what sort of country we become will depend on how much those who exercise power (political, economic, etc.) are constrained from abuse. And Left and Right is not the issue. Both have equal capacity to abuse power and will do so if given the opportunity.

    1. Thanks Alan, lets see what happens. I wasn’t meaning that there are no checks and balances in theory, but that in reality they don’t come to force.

      Its extraordinary that Trump is in the White House at all, and his party just rolled over and let him despite the most appalling campaign marked by violence, racism and mocking disabled people.

      1. Alan says:

        I agree. Let’s see what happens. I think we are going to find out fairly soon just what sort of condition the US system of checks and balances is in and how effective it remains. Although it will likely take a little while for this to play out.

        I do think we as Scots have lessons to learn from the American experience, good and bad. If we escape the corrupt British state, what system do we want in place to check the rise of groups who’ll lord it over everyone else? It’s not a simple question for which there are simple solutions. And how do we get it? The nature of the beast is that what we’ll get will be secured through a series of compromises and dealing with odd contingencies.

  2. James Dow says:

    It is exactly Trumps inherient Scottish traits from his Mother that will probably see him regarded as the most significant POTUS in American history.

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