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.

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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.

Wuz Up in Trumperland for November?

It has been over three weeks since I posted, an indication of how sick I am of writing about Trump, a man who deserves little written about him at all, except for one revolting fact:  He is the President, the only guy with a one man nuclear capacity.  Oh, right, there is also that North Korean guy.  More about the two of them below.

This seems a good time to make a few points as potentially important events might be in store for us this month and not just speculation and wild goose chasing launched by the President’s off hand comments in tweets and in public, a continuous fourth of July fireworks of distractions that usually leave us a little more divided each new day.

Here are three key areas to keep our eyes on over the course of this month despite whatever distractions that Trump trumps up:

The Mueller investigation has become more concrete in recent days with a couple of indictments and news of a guilty plea by one of the actors, George Papapodopoulis, a guy unknown to most of us, but with the potential of opening up Trump’s can of worms regarding connections with Russia.  What the indictments and plea deal suggests is that Mueller is sending a message to those tied to the Trump administration that they too could be indicted if they try to deceive investigators.   This could produce a number of real news events in contrast to the suffocating miasma of speculation that we have had to stomach for months now.

The second news thread to follow is the Republican tax “reform” plan that is supposed to be revealed today.  One key idea is that a few trillion in closed loopholes will be necessary to prevent this “reform” from ballooning our national debt, and as always, we all hate loopholes accept for those which benefit ourselves.  They couldn’t get a healthcare bill to pass and that seems a walk in the park compared to this.   If this is a park, it is replete with muggers.

Saving the worst for last is Trump’s upcoming 12 day visit to Asia starting Friday.   On the surface this would seem a good thing to do for several obvious reasons, except we are talking about Trump doing it, so who knows.   Of course, he will say it was all great, especially him.  I’ll say it was good if we don’t seem even closer to war with North Korea than we do now.

The NOKO issue is particularly scary because Trump and Kim Jong Un appear on a collision course, as the latter seems to see an expansion of his nuclear weaponry as the best way to keep his regime, especially himself, safe while the former seems unlikely to tolerate a NOKO capacity to strike our mainland with a nuclear weapon.

Something has to give here, or catastrophe on both sides seems inevitable.   An additional danger is that one of the bluster brothers might interpret some threat the other makes as a sign of imminent attack, prompting a preemptive strike.  I can’t recall who labelled North Korea the “land of lousy options,” but that’s remains a fine description.

Thanksgiving is in three weeks and while I have much to be thankful for in my personal life, I wonder how thankful I will feel regarding the three issues touched upon above.

The Arpaio Pardon: One More Shake of the Wobbly Pillars of our Republic

As you all probably know there is a huge storm lashing and flooding the Texas coast.  It is creating mass destruction but at least it will blow over in a few days.  What will remain are Donald Trump’s efforts to corrupt our political system, a growing storm of a different kind.

It would take a book to portray the numerous incidents whereby Trump has weakened the pillars of our political system, lambasting the press as fake, our intelligence agencies as politicized and/or incompetent, the judiciary as overreaching and the congress as impotent.  Of course,  many of us may share such sentiments as the public image of all of those institutions has suffered for some time now.  However, it is one thing to be critical of them and another to have no respect for them at all, to act with impunity as if the health of those institutions is not vitally important to the maintenance of our Republic.

Trump’s basic message is we cannot trust anyone but him.  The basic message of all demagogues.

The pardon Friday of Sherriff Joe Arpaio  exemplifies this attitude.   As described by Yahoo News, Arpaio, a Trump supporter, had  “been convicted of criminal contempt last month for failing to obey a federal judge’s order to stop targeting Latinos on the basis of their suspected immigration status.”

Trump’s position is Arpaio was just “doing his job.”   In other words, it is fine for law officers to ignore laws they find inconvenient.   Senator John McCain reacted by charging Trump with undermining the “law and order” emphasis of his campaign, but Trump has always emphasized order over law, contemptuous of legal niceties.

Arpaio’s tactics suit the Donald to a Tee.  That is really what the “president” has in mind by law and order.   I imagine police across the land have taken note.

Besides an ignoring-civil-rights tone to police work, the pardoning of Arpaio sends a message to all in Trump’s immediate orbit that the Donald is basically free to pardon any of them if they get in a tight spot.   How reassuring.

So often we hear of the wisdom of the founders in setting up the institutions of American government, but Trump may have found a loop hole.   The founders seem not to have imagined the possibility of a president pardoning with abandon.  Even using the pardon as a negotiating tool for his own self-protection.

I have heard some discussion as to whether the president can pardon himself.  I have no idea if the matter is clear cut.   Certainly if he thinks it might be of help, he’ll give it a try.

What Does it Take for Some People to be Disgusted by Trump’s Amorality?

I watched FOX cable news this morning figuring I would see a defense of our “president’s” flipping back to the position yesterday that he espoused Saturday that there was blame on both sides for the violence in Charlotte.  And “fine people” on both sides, too.

I think it would take a major research project to find some of those fine people among the white supremacists who were shouting anti-Jewish and other threatening slogans.  I am just so sick of Trump and his B. S. and those who still act as if he is a normal person. Either by now you see what a weak moral compass he has spinning around like a broken top or you likely never will.

Still, I’m happy to report that while Trump friendly arguments were made on FOX, of course, they were challenged by other FOX guests.  (And, I might add, despite the frequent silliness, some good debates pop out there, something I’d like to see more of on the liberal mutual admiration society that is MSNBC .)

Those wanting to defend Trump’s equal blame theory can point to some violence on the left from a radical fringe we might loosely call Antifa (anti-fascists), but they weren’t there to spew racism and white supremacy.  They were there to protest it.

This captures the gist:   Former KKK Grand Wizzard David Duke, now calling himself a white nationalist, reflected many on the far right who praised Trump’s equal blame statement given Saturday as it essentially diluted their greater share of the blame.   But then Duke reviled Trump for the obviously phony shift Monday where he finally pointed to neo-nazi’s and white supremacists as being the primary culprits.

Hey, get this.  I agree with David Duke, the second statement was phony, or as Charles Krauthammer said on Fox:  “His heart wasn’t in it.”  That’s why Trump later reversed course, reportedly surprising his staff in the process.

Now that Trump has returned to reiterating the Saturday statement, Duke is ecstatic again.

How can anyone in their right mind view praise from David Duke to be a good thing?

At this point one wonders if any major Republican figure will make some major stand against Trump for this, as have a few members of his manufacturing council who have resigned in protest.

Love to see it, but I’m not holding my breath.   When you’ve been dancing with the devil it is tough to bow out.  Especially when you still believe he might do you some good despite much evidence to the contrary.


P. S. – The white supremacist activities figure to blossom and I think it useful to read this portrait of what I think of as the new white far right.   They aren’t just your grandfather’s KKK or even neo-Nazi’s but various new groups of largely young men, usually clean cut and at times well spoken and well organized.   More attractive white supremacists.

Also, Antifa will undoubtedly be showing up at these white supremacist rallies and unfortunately provide a foil for the likes of Donald Trump to point to as say….  “see, they’re to blame, too.”   Take a glance at them.

That was the Week that Was

The administration of Donald Trump has been unusual from the beginning, but it has morphed into something surreal.   No, more than that.  What word means more surreal than surreal?   Let me see, how about “nuts”?

I have been working on a post that tries to capture what this past week has been like and what it says about this dysfunctional, loony tunes administration, but it has been more than I can handle.  Like trying to get back into the pants I wore in high school.  Not to mention that the words I’ve tried convey a sense of “the sky is falling the sky is falling”.  Well, maybe it is.   But running around screaming doesn’t help, other than my own need to vent.

Fortunately,  Ruth Marcus outlines the White House chaos in calm, relatively short fashion in a Washington Post column titled “The White House is Imploding.”   It doesn’t include everything weird that has happened recently, most notably the sudden priority our Twit-in-Chief has placed on cleaning out our military of those fussy transgender types,  as if North Korea’s nuclear rattling, Middle East chaos and Putin’s nefarious ways belong on back burners.

But, Marcus gives the gist of the incompetency of Donald Trump when it comes to playing president.   Once again reminding us that we have elected a child president whom we must all work around to get anything done.

Here is the column.


P. S. – The title of the post is stolen from a popular British TV show back in 1963 credited with being the first to satirize the British government.   The people loved it; not surprisingly the government did not.  I imagine our Saturday Night Live owes a debt of gratitude to that show.

“When the World is Led by a Child”

I think of Donald Trump as the boy who would be king rather than the man who is president.  Certainly he acts like he thinks he’s king, ignoring traditional protocols and government norms and treating his children, and one particular spouse, as princes and a princess, his closest advisors.  Also, he acts like a difficult child who won’t pay attention, wants what he wants right now and has temper tantrums.

That is the gist of the abnormal, even surreal, political environment our Republic has fallen prey to and it makes a difference in how to deal with this so-called president.   It is his impulsivity, his inability to pay attention and desperation for approval which prompt him to careen all over the place, like a small child behind the wheel of a car.

You just can’t hand him the keys and wish him well.

I believe many people in positions of authority both at home and abroad see Trump in this way and their reaction is to work around him not with him.  The key is to appease him or ignore him, whatever it takes to go about one’s own work.   The recent meeting of the G20 nations is illustrative of this tendency, as the gathering now can be seen as the G19 who conducted business around our boy king, such as affirming the Paris climate accord.

I will elaborate more on that in a future post.  Right now I want to provide support for what I’ve just said by directing you to an essay by David Brooks, a moderate conservative columnist, a fine writer and deep thinker.  I stole the title of his piece because it captures my contention so well and Brooks’ analysis goes deeper and is better than I could write myself.

He illuminates Trump’s immaturity and then sums up why we can’t count on him to be our leader:  Trump is “sloppy, because he lacks all impulse control, and above all because he is a 7-year-old boy desperate for the approval of those he admires.”

Here is a link to the essay.    It is worth reading a couple of times.  Let it sink in.

I’ll make you a deal.  You read that twice and I won’t darken your email door until at least Wednesday.