Trump’s State of the Disunion Message Tonight

I’ve tried to begin various versions of this post, but have ground to a halt each time.  Why speculate on what he will say?  We never know what he really means.  He often doesn’t know what he really means but those gut instincts of his have served him well.  He remains afloat by playing upon the fears, the hunger for simplicity and the resentments of many Americans, like a music phenom plays a Strativarius.   Meanwhile he will talk about wanting to unify the country when he has done the exact opposite this past year.  I imagine even his supporters don’t see him as a unifier.  They just want to see him bully their imagined enemies in government.

In broad terms, whatever he says, the big news is how he and his minions in Congress and Trump TV (a.k.a.  Fox “News”, with a couple exceptions) are steadily creating the alternative reality to challenge what is likely to come out of the Mueller investigation, a combination of charges and actions worthy of impeachment.  When that time comes, the Trumpeteers want a well established narrative that undermines the credibility of Mueller and the FBI itself, so Trump can challenge the charges, maybe even plead the 5th Amendment. The latest attack comes from what is called the “Nunes” memo, which you can google and judge for yourself.  So bogus if you know the history.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to be nice to his Russian buddy Vlad by cancelling plans yesterday for additional sanctions on Russia for interfering with our elections, sanctions that were passed in Congress by near unanimous majorities last summer.  The White House has dragged its collective feet for months and finally, last night 10 minutes before the deadline, they cancelled them saying they didn’t seem necessary now.

Not necessary?   Trump appointed CIA Director Mike Pompeo said earlier that day he expects Russia to try to interfere in our 2018 elections.  And then that night, the White House says no need for more sanctions?  It makes no sense but at this point lying has worked so well, who cares about contradictions, even when obvious. And so far Congress has barely raised a peep, as if they are all mesmerized.

I won’t watch the speech, but tomorrow I will be  curious to know if Trump brings up his plan for immigration reform.  Both the right and the left hate it, which says to me:  Hey, there might be a decent deal to be made.  If Trump actually could pull off a deal on immigration I might have to say something nice.  But my guess is he won’t even try.  He just wants to put the Dems in a position where they will have to refuse the deal.  He doesn’t have the courage to make his base angry.

Oh, by the way, tied to some DACA deal is the necessity to add another budget extension (our 5th I think since October) in nine days.

Our fly by night budget system suits our fly by night president.   It is only fitting that after Trump’s speech Jimmy Kimmel will host Stormy Daniels, called a porn star paramour of Trump who was allegedly paid off to keep silent prior to the election.  In the pre-Trump era that would be BIG NEWS – the president and the porn star…..

Now it is just another side show in Trump’s 23 ring circus.  Given all the geological layers of recently uncovered sleazy behavior by men in power, consensual sex, even while his wife was pregnant and a big payoff for silence was made, seems pretty tepid stuff.

Welcome to Trumptopia.

 

Advertisements

The U. S. Government Shutdown: Who will Win the Message Battle?

I don’t like the idea, but I think Trump will.  His message seems stronger, which is:  The Democrats are choosing to support illegals over protecting our borders and paying our troops and building our military.  They are holding the government hostage for their pet cause the DACA dreamers, which is a separate issue from funding the government and one that can wait for awhile as the executive order protecting them doesn’t expire until March.

The essential thinking goes:  Say what you will liberals, but those people are here illegally and while we may be sympathetic (except the immigration hawks), we do not want to close the government down over this issue.

Of course, Democrats counter with the fact Republicans control the presidency and Congress so if there is a shut down it is their fault.  Also, the Republicans have had months to resolve the DACA issue, and seemed close to doing so before that “holes” meeting in the oval office blew up the chances. The Republican need for Democratic votes to pass their bill in the Senate is the only way the Democrats have any leverage on their side.

Democrats and liberal commentators also often cite a poll that roughly 80% of the population are in favor of passing DACA, all the more reason for the Dems to dig in their heels here.

Less often they point to another poll where people were asked which was more important to them protecting the dreamers or keeping the government open, and the latter got 54% or so and the former 39% or so.  In short a majority may be sympathetic to the dreamers, but not at the cost of shutting down the government and not paying our troops and strengthening our military.  To them the dreamers can wait.

With that poll in mind, digging in on DACA is easy to sell as hostage taking and the longer the situation lasts, the more it it is going to be seen that way by a majority of Americans, especially as the Republicans will hammer that point deep into our psyches.  Right now they have ads on TV blaming the Democrat softness on immigration for murders committed by illegal immigrants.  (Which has nothing to do with the dreamers, but fosters subliminal guilt by association).  Since the message is so simple and negative, even Trump seems likely to stay on it.

I love being right, but in this case I would welcome being wrong.  I would be happy to be wrong.


P. S. – A pet peeve of mine is the tendency of commentators and politicians to indicate one party or the other has “control of the senate” because they have a simple majority.  A majority means control mostly in a negative sense.  You can stop things from happening, but because of Senate rules you need 60 votes on most important matters, like the budget extension, to make something happen, i.e. to pass it.   Obamacare was passed with 60 votes exactly.  The primary reason the ACA has so many flaws is it had to satisfy the concerns of so many different Senators to reach 60.  In short, while the Republicans manage the senate now, they don’t control it as illustrated by this impasse.  Of course, they could lower all decisions to a simple majority, as they have with selecting federal judges other than the Supreme Court, but that would make the opposition party totally impotent.  Not surprisingly, the authoritarian Trump is now trumpeting that “nuclear option” in tweets.

The Truth about the “Holes” Meeting and why Care?

Did Trump say “S…holes” or some variation (e.g “houses”) at that ….meeting?  We have two Republican Senators who now say he did not, Tom Cotton and David Perdue, after initially saying they couldn’t recall, and Republican Lindsay Graham and Democrat Dick Durbin saying he did say those things, so someone is clearly lying.

You may well be thinking what is one more lie among Trump’s ever growing galaxy of fabrications.  I say once in awhile we should pin one down for it will likely have future implications.  With a government shutdown pending and both parties blaming the other, it seems important to pin down what happened at that meeting and who is lying about it.

A New York Times piece today described that meeting well, so I ask you to go to that link to get a fuller picture, but not quite yet.

Here are two reasons to believe Graham and Durbin.  For one, Graham has tried hard to stay on Trump’s good side (including some games of golf) so they could work together, while maintaining some integrity in the process, meaning he will criticize Trump but he tries not to trash him.

That tight rope walking left him at first both supporting Durbin while not exactly accusing Trump of those words, until Perdue and Cotton suddenly located their memories in time for talk shows last Sunday where they were sure the “holes” word was not used.  Their lies were too much for Graham to take, so he came out with stronger words backing Durbin.

My point being, Graham didn’t want this to happen, but after working on a compromise with Durbin that Trump seemed to like, he just wasn’t going to roll over for the president and the party when it was so clear to him who was lying.

Here’s a second reason to believe Graham and Durbin:   At that Senate hearing Tuesday, homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen actually claimed she did not know whether Norway was predominantly white, in response to a question referring to Trump’s racial bias.  Huh?

That prompted another Senator to question Nielsen’s competence for the job and for Stephen Colbert to make a joke about it, her Nordic name making the ignorance particularly odd.  But I watched her prior to that and she looked quite capable to me until she started dodging questions as to what was said at that meeting which she attended (“I can’t recall….there was a lot of tough language used from both sides”….never giving exact words she heard).

I say she was in such a CYA mode trying to shield the president that she responded to the Norway question as if it were a trick.  So the safest answer that second was  “I don’t know”.  Dumb as it seems now and proof she was hiding her real knowledge of the meeting.

My point in all of this is the shut down we will soon face could have been avoided had this meeting not devolved into the sewer (to maintain a theme).  So, it matters who is telling the truth about the meeting when it comes to the blame game.

In a televised meeting of Congressional leaders the Tuesday before the “holes” meeting Trump acted as if he welcomed the idea of more money for border security in exchange for legalizing the “dreamers”  (so many warm feelings I was expecting hand holding and Kumbaya to burst forth), but by meeting time Thursday Trump’s mind frame totally changed, undoubtedly from negative reactions from his base.  Cotton and Perdue, hardliners on immigration, were obviously there to prevent Trump from flipping back to flop.

The seeds for a shut down were sewed in that meeting and Trump, Cotton and Perdue planted them.


P. S. NEWS FLASH:    Senate Minority Chuck Schumer is at the White House (10:35 a.m. Pacific Time) in what is reported as a one to one talk with Trump.  Could the two New Yorkers forge some kind of last minute deal to keep the government open?   It’s a matter of which Trump wants less, to have a government shut down marring  the celebration of his first year as president in Florida this weekend, or to have the base that he continuously courts unhappy with some kind of compromise.

Epilogue to Last Week’s “Holes” Post

In my previous post I tried to etch a rough line between the Trump TV show and the Trump presidency, while trying to make the point that the show has gotten most of the attention while Republican congressional actions have often been sidetracked or delayed by Trump speaking his mindless.

On the other hand, Trump’s outrageous speech and actions have drawn attention away from the right’s steady actions to dismantle the administrative state allowing them to progress steadily unnoticed like termites in your attic.  In short, it’s a twisted relationship.

BUT THE KEY POINT TO KEEP IN MIND IS WHAT MATTERS MOST TO TRUMP IS THE SHOW NOT THE PRESIDENCY.

What matters most is not achieving anything in particular but to hold our constant attention while appearing to win often while blaming anyone he can think of when he doesn’t.  This is most clear in situations like the attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, where he was obviously ready to sign anything and call it a great victory for the people with no clue of what impact any of it would have.

That Trump sees this all as a show was supported in a tweet by conservative talk show host Erick Erickson Saturday.  Referring to the now infamous “hole” comment, Erickson wrote:

“It’s weird that people in the room don’t remember Trump using that word when Trump himself was calling friends to brag about it afterwards.  I spoke to one of those friends.  The president thought it would play well to his base.”

Trump bragging about using the word.  (get that Paul Ryan? who called the comment “unfortunate and unhelpful” as if Trump had just misspoken with his 4th grade vocabulary.   No, he meant to say that.  He was proud of saying that.).  To be fair Erickson, formerly the editor of the conservative blog Red State has been a strong critic of Trump since the vulgarian described Megan Kelly’s bleeding from somewhere in that debate.  Because of that Erikson disinvited Trump from a Red State event.

I infer he disinvited Trump because of a sense of common decency which mattered more than whatever political overlap there was.  This is just a theory, but I think where there is decency, you’ll also find more honesty.

So, Erikson can’t stand the guy either, but he sure has a lot of conservative friends who would have connection to Trump and I believe his comments because he has shown decency and honesty in the past, qualities harder to detect in Trump than finding oxygen on the moon.

Today is Martin Luther King day, so many Republican politicians must feel those comments by Trump were particularly unfortunate and unhelpful, especially to their own political careers.  Trump doesn’t care.  MLK day only amplifies his “unfortunate” comments from last week assuring him the spotlight, which to him is fortunate.

Well, boys and girls that’s what comes of making a pact with the devil’s showman.


P. S. – There is a piece on Red State that discusses two problems of Trump’s “holes” comments in a thoughtful way.  I suggest you look at it as it seems the kind of piece that many could read and actually discuss without yelling at each other, such a novelty these days.

Struggling at the Bottom of a Trump Made Shithole

This past week must be one of the most action packed of the long running Trumped-Up show:  I, President.  – which is saying a lot.  That doesn’t mean this episode deserves an award, just the reverse, and there is so much crap involved, I don’t want to touch it.  But I feel a need to say something, to find some take on Trumptopia that sheds some light.

It helps me to think of this whole week as a show because that is the way Trump sees it.  In December, the New York Times reported that “Before taking office, Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals.”  That seems to sum up Trump’s approach to both TV producing and governing, a shared hodgepodge.

Much of last week has been aimed at vanquishing the author of a big tell all book about fast times at White House High, which seemed to set the table in the days that followed as the book portrayed (I hear) Trump as the nitwit in chief of a loony tune WH.  Trump’s response was to hold some meetings and do other things to look presidential.

Much that transpired revealed the opposite, but I doubt he cares.  Even when he plays the fool he remains the center of attention, often more so, prompting hard working reporters to deconstruct his big lies, like the one that the random lottery that is used for a small part of immigration gives us the people those countries don’t want.  Totally false, but so what, Trump pumps out more whoppers than Burger King.  And regurgitates old ones.  Easier for him to just keep telling a lie than for others to constantly refute it.

In those meetings Trump showed his usual lack of any grasp of complex issues and said things that contradicted Republican positions.  In a televised meeting of leaders of both parties he seemed to favor a simple DACA fix (as if to show he is cooperative and kindly, calling it an “act of love”).  But after the meeting he flipped positions and refused the deal, apparently deciding that love was not shared by his base.

Also, he criticized the FISA act in a tweet for not protecting him implying he was for changes in the act even though the WH had already indicated they did not want changes in the bill voted on Thursday in the House.  In both cases Trump had to be reminded he was actually against what he said he was for or vice-versa.

Heh, but so what?  The DACA deal wasn’t made and Trump blamed the Dems, of course, even though he was the one who changed positions.  And FISA got passed after Trump stopped getting in the way.  So despite floundering, Trump filled the Republican bill and was the center of attention in the process.

Of course, the shitholes comment seemed to garner too much of the wrong attention from around the world.   He called African countries shitholes, while implying Haiti and some south American countries weren’t much different.   However, he denied in a tweet he ever said that.  He had only “talked tough,” but not those words.  Also, his word spinners have construed it as reflecting his America First emphasis.  Those who oppose him love those other nations more than the U. S.

With Trump it seems we often have to turn things upside down to see more clearly.  While normally incurring the wrath of much of the world would seem a bad presidential move, the shithole story became THE STORY of the week, grabbing attention away from many criticisms and self-made errors by the president.  It is outrageous, but our outrage works for Trump, prompting us to lose sight of his general incompetence while emphasizing his America first message and giving him the constant media coverage he hungers for, like Dracula needs blood.

So, did Trump vanquish his rivals this past week?  I’d say it is hard to judge, but in his own tumultuous way he held his own.  Constantly being the center of attention certainly makes him a winner of his television show.  Hard to get higher ratings.  And I don’t think his fan base of about one third of the country will have many complaints, so I’d say he’s a winner of his own little game.

Unfortunately, the rest of us are being forced to play it.


P. S. – I’m from a time when you didn’t completely type profanities, like sh–holes out of a reluctance to be vulgar.  But I noticed the term being used in its entirety in reports and learned that while normally the word would be slightly disguised, reporting guidelines make an exception when the president says or writes it.  In short, an exception is made out of respect for the president’s position.  Sickenly so , we have a president who doesn’t have respect for the position himself.

Also, I got the NY Times quote I used from a piece by Eugene Robinson about how Trump seldom knows what he thinks.  Robinson’s descriptions of a couple of meetings mentioned above fit with my own observations, in case you’d like to check them out at :  Eugene Robinson

The Trumped Up Presidency

I was going to write a post on the impact of the Trumped up presidency, but got side tracked thinking about the word, name, itself, so that other post will have to wait for a day or two or three.  I am struck by the definition of trump up: “to concoct especially with intent to deceive : fabricate, invent.”

 

What a perfect description of the empty essence of the current president.  I have thought so for some time, but can’t recall anyone zeroing in on the perfect fit as I am about to do.  Hillary Clinton did make a tangential remark at a debate referring to his “Trumped up trickle down theory of economics,” but that was a misguided attempt to be clever with little impact.

 

That aside, let’s look at another version of the word: trumpery. While today it refers to material objects of little or no value, back in the mid-15th century it meant deceit or fraud or worthless nonsense.  That sense is now obsolete, but the Trump phenomenon may wind up prompting its rejuvenation.

 

We might also add:  to trump:  as in bridge where one suit is all powerful over the other three, which certainly suits Trumped-Up’s vision of presidential powers in relationship to congress, the judiciary and the press.

 

For the Donald to have such a suitable name reminds me of what Carl Jung, Freud’s most well known “student”, called “synchronicity”, which means coincidental acts that seem too coincidental to be mere coincidence, eerily so.  We are being led by the shallowest of fabricating fools as if the”the force” has declared we deserve to be , and provided that name as our clue.

 

So, when in the future I refer to President Trumped-Up or the Trumped-Up presidency, know that I’m not trying to be cute or clever.  Simply concise.