What happens when billionaires install their government at the highest levels of the United States? This is THE question that nobody seems to be asking and frankly nobody's answering.
What we're seeing, this dysfunction, this general insanity, you've got Ezra Klein over at vox.com saying, "well, impeachment is a political process and you don't have to prove that the president is either crazy (twenty-fifth amendment) or criminal (the impeachment clause) because Alexander Hamilton in the The Federalist Papers said impeachment is a political remedy for political problems etc., etc.
You've got the president Donald Trump tweeting at the wrong Theresa May. It's some poor woman in the UK whose middle name is May going, "what the hell?"
And the British are really seriously upset about this. I mean, he tweeted a picture of a Dutchman beating up a Dutchman and said it was a Muslim beating up a Dutchman.
But all of this craziness has been brought to us by over a billion dollars of money coming out of the Koch network, coming out of the Mercer family, coming out of Shelly Adelson in the last election cycle, from literally a few thousand multimillionaires and billionaires. And they have bought our government.
Public Citizen, the group that Ralph Nader started back in the 60s, is still running, still doing great work. They just issued a press release. The headline says the whole thing. The Koch brothers are in the White House. "44 Trump Administration Officials Have Close Ties to the Koch Brothers, Public Citizen Finds":
"44 Trump administration officials have close ties to the Koch brothers and their political groups, particularly Vice President Mike Pence, White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, and White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney..."
I would add Ryan Zinke to that list.
"Of the Koch allies who are working in the administration, most are in the White House, with 21 officials working there or nominated for White House jobs. Koch allies also are staffing jobs at the EPA, the Interior Department, the Energy Department and the Treasury Department. The positions they are advocating overlap with the Kochs' economic interests in weakening regulatory enforcement, lowering corporate taxes, loosening environmental regulations and opening up public land to oil and gas extraction.
The Kochs already have achieved the majority of goals contained in "Roadmap to Repeal" - a policy document published in January 2017 by Freedom Partners, a Koch group."
Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, says...
"Donald Trump is turning the Koch brothers' corporate extremist fantasies into reality."
So we're having this moment in the United States where we're all struggling with: what do we do with a president who is, according to people in the White House, nuts. I mean some of the quotes literally coming out of the White House coming out of the senior aides to Donald Trump saying this guy is deranged, this guy is out of control, this guy doesn't understand the consequences of his actions.
He's walking us into a nuclear war with North Korea. He's antagonizing our allies. He's breaking up our international alliances. It is total chaos.
Is this just Steve Bannon deconstructing the administrative state now by proxy? Or is it something much greater than that?
I think it's something much, much greater than that. Ezra Klein makes this brilliant case over at vox.com, "The case for normalizing impeachment" - that impeachment is, as I said earlier, just a political process.
This is Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, No. 65, where he talks about impeachment. He says impeachment will...
"proceed from the misconduct of public men."
A direct quote from Alexander Hamilton, one of the guys who wrote the Constitution...
"proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL,"
And Hamilton, as he often did in the Federalist Papers, puts the word political in all caps...
as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself."
James Madison, referred to by many as the father of the Constitution...
"The wanton removal of meritorious officers would subject him to impeachment and removal."
You know, if the president just starts firing people because he doesn't like them (James Comey) that's grounds for impeachment according to the guy who helped write the Constitution, who kept the notes for the Constitution, who studied for five years before August of 1787 all the constitutions of every country on earth, basically, and put this thing together.
So we're we're having these voices who are saying is it that he's a narcissist and he's deranged? Is it that he is in early stage dementia? Joe Scarborough keeps pointing this out - go back and look at videos of Donald Trump being interviewed in the 80s - that he is sharp, he is to the point, he speaks in complete sentences, he speaks in complete paragraphs. No more.
What has happened to this guy's mind?
So we're having all these conversations but nobody is having what I think is the much larger and more important conversation, the real big picture here.
What nobody is talking about is that if a group of billionaires had not read the Powell memo in 1971 when Lewis Powell wrote to his neighbor and friend Eugene Syndor, the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and said, "you know, up until now, up until 1971, business in the United States has been not just afraid - unwilling to engage in politics because we see our mission, business always saw its mission, as being part of the community, good stewards of the community, good employers and providers of goods and services."
And Powell said, "no, it's not enough, we've got to seize political power, we have to get control of universities, we have to create think tanks, we have to get control of the media, we have to get control of the political system, we have to pack the courts."
All of that is happening right now. For the last two years of the Obama administration virtually no judges were approved, including one for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, because the Republicans wanted to stack up hundreds of court vacancies to the point where John Roberts wrote a letter to Congress saying this is a judicial emergency.
So they're packing the courts. In the 70s they started creating these think tanks. Charles Koch changed his foundation's name to Cato Institute. The Heritage Foundation was created. The list goes on and on and on, right, all this stuff.
And they have done it! They've pulled it off in 30 years. We now have a corporate coup in America. And it's not just a corporate coup, it's also a billionaire coup. They are running the game. They're running the system.
They're putting their people into place for their own purposes as Public Citizen pointed out. They want their paper mills to be more profitable by dumping more poison in the air. They want their oil refineries to be more profitable by dumping more poison in our water and our air, all the cancer clusters downwind from Texas.
It's all going to get worse as we continue through this thing.
Trump talks about, "oh, we've got these great legislative achievements now, so far, we've done more than any president in history."
What was his first legislative accomplishment? Passing a law that made it legal for coal companies to dump their waste into the rivers of West Virginia and the rest of the country, of course, but that's where the whole thing started.
How is that an accomplishment? Oh, that's right, it increases the profits of the coal companies.
Does it help the miners? No, of course not. In fact, disposing of coal waste is a fairly labor-intensive job, it requires equipment and people, and people to design the equipment, and people to maintain the equipment. But we don't need all that - we can just dump it in the river - that takes one guy with a dump truck.
This is their legislative end. This is just like micro to the macro, at every level: blowing up the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) as Richard Cordray is on his way out. CFPB has recovered 13 billion dollars for Americans and distributed it.
What was the first thing Mick Mulvaney did when he went in there? He said, "stop! No more payments to consumers. That's money you took from the big banks."
Of course, they committed fraud to have to pay those fines but "hey, they're the big banks, they financed my election."
We have a corruption problem in this country.
We have a crazy president problem in this country.
We've got a Congress that's sold-out problem in this country.
And all of it, or much of it, you can track back to 1976 when Lewis Powell, who was put on the Supreme Court by Nixon, authored the Buckley decision and said the First Amendment protects the rights of billionaires to own politicians.
It's been all downhill since then.