Saturday, March 25, 2017

Reality leaves Trump unfazed

In the last post I characterized the failure of TrumpCare v. 1 as "Trump's brush with reality".

Evidently reality has made no impression on our Dear Leader.

After the bill was pulled from the House floor, Donnie tweeted reassurance to his followers:

“ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!”
Well all right, then. Let the celebrating begin!

Of course, if you stop to think for a moment, you might wonder: if it's possible "to piece together" such a plan, why the hell do we have to wait for the Affordable Care Act to fail? Why wasn't TrumpCare v. 1 the "great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE" that Dear Leader assures his followers is coming?

Look, Republicans had the best opportunity they've ever had to destroy the Affordable Care Act. By 2014, House Republicans had voted 54 times "to undo, update [or] to change it". Didn't any of those Republicans think about what they'd do if the stars aligned and they actually got the chance?

If they did, they didn't share their thoughts with one another. What we saw in the House was an absolute absence of a shared vision for health care. What we saw was Paul Ryan and Dear Leader being sandbagged by their fellow Republicans' fractious views of how Americans should pay for health care, and what kind of care (if any) should be required (or forbidden).

Those fractious views, it should be noted, mirror the fractious views of those Republican representatives' constituents, who want world-class care, but think world-class care is just too damned expensive. Up goes the cry: square that circle, Congresscritters!

With that backdrop, what makes Donnie so optimistic that a kick-ass health care plan is just around the corner, once the ACA goes belly-up?

Well, like I said: evidently, reality has made no impression on him.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Trump's brush with reality

So: TrumpCare v. 1, aka the grandly named "American Health Care Act", has been pulled from consideration, with no immediate plan to bring it back. The legislation couldn't attract enough votes from House Republicans no matter how its language was modified. (Even if it had passed the House, it faced a tough time in the Senate.)

Who can sum up this moment? Maybe this fellow, from back in February:

President Donald Trump on Monday [27 February 2017] claimed that “nobody knew that health care could be so complicated” ...
Mm, yes, "nobody knew" — except for those pesky members of Congress who fought tooth and nail in 2009 over what became known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare". (Mr. Obama and his administration knew how complicated the subject was, too.)

Speaking of fighting, how's our Dear Leader doing after this first legislative fight of his administration?

Mr. Trump expressed weariness with the effort, though its failure took a fraction of the time that Democrats devoted to enacting the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and 2010. “It’s enough already,” the president said.
Tired already, Don? But you're "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency”! Your "strength and physical stamina are extraordinary”! How can you have had enough already?

Your base is waiting for you to revamp the tax code and build that wall, among other things, Donnie. Better start popping some vitamins.

I suspect you're going to proclaim that "nobody knew" those things were so complicated, too, before those legislative fights are over. (And again, you'll be wrong. Oh well.)

The reality is that governance is hard work and details matter. (As most of us would say: "Duh!")

Reality sucks, doesn't it, Donnie?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Coping with the Trump threat

In an earlier post I wondered how serious a threat Dear Leader's hostility to dissent and contempt for social and political norms posed to the country.

Now the question is: if he's as big a threat as I (we) fear, what the hell do we do?

As I mentioned in that earlier post, it's possible the fate of the nation will rest in the individual consciences of the thousands of rank-and-file employees of the executive branch, including many peace officers. Will they resist illegal orders? Will they decide their duty to their country outweighs their duty to their current boss?

I don't know. And I'm not sure it's such a hot idea to leave our fate in so few hands anyway.

If the nation's future hangs by the fragile thread of the consciences of rank-and-file agents, lawyers, clerks, etc., in various federal bureaus and agencies, the nation's fabric will have been irretrievably compromised by Dear Leader and his cronies.

At that point, the citizenry as a whole will have to reassert the primacy of custom, comity and, above all, the rule of law in our national governance.

We will have to rediscover our values and our honor.

That will be a challenge none of us has ever faced. Meeting it may take drastic measures, the likes of which have never been needed in this country.

To be clear, I'm not talking about armed revolt. That's the kind of response Dear Leader is prepared for; he will rally the law enforcement machinery around him because law enforcement doesn't like armed insurrection no matter how bad the political situation is. (Knowing Dear Leader, he will try to rope in the armed services to help out, too.)

No, if Dear Leader presents the existential threat to our republic that I'm beginning to think he does, I'm talking about bringing the civic machinery of the country to a grinding halt. I'm talking about withholding federal taxes and refusing to cooperate with federal authorities. I'm talking about dropping tools and paralyzing the business of the nation.

I'm talking about a general strike and civil disobedience directed against the federal government, until such time as Dear Leader and his junta are removed from power.

I have a tiny, ineradicable sliver of hope that Dear Leader and Steve Bannon and DL's other hangers-on aren't the junta suggested by their behavior to date. Why do I have hope? Because our nation has never elected a tin-pot dictator before. However, "We haven't screwed up so far!" is a poor reason for optimism. So start wrapping your mind around the possible need to do the hitherto unthinkable.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The real "Next Generation"

I finally saw Star Trek Beyond the other day. This isn't a review, though.

At the end of Beyond, Zachary Quinto's Spock finds an image of the original, or "prime", Trek crew among Spock Prime's belongings. What the moviemakers intended the moment to mean is unclear. For Quinto's Spock it could be a bit of inspiration, knowing he and his shipmates could have a long, eventful life together. It could also be simply another way of tugging at the audience's heartstrings, reminding us of the crew (characters and actors) who started it all.

For me, the moment brought to mind, unbidden, maybe the most poignant scene in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Relics". Scotty has been chatting with Picard amid a re-creation of the bridge of the original Enterprise. Abruptly Scotty realizes he's trying to return to a past he can never recapture. "I don't belong on your ship. I belong on this one."

That's how I felt when I saw that image of Nimoy, Shatner, et al., in Quinto's hands. As much as I've enjoyed some of this new crew's adventures, they're not my crew. I belong on Kirk-Prime's Enterprise, not this shiny new one.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The best advice for coping with Trump

The advice comes from David Letterman:
... Trump’s the president and he can lie about anything from the time he wakes up to what he has for lunch and he’s still the president. I don’t get that. I’m tired of people being bewildered about everything he says: “I can't believe he said that.” We gotta stop that and instead figure out ways to protect ourselves from him. We know he’s crazy. We gotta take care of ourselves here now.
Letterman's right: we have to take care of ourselves and protect ourselves from him.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Please stop saying "Orientals"

I'm trying to be nicer about correcting people here.

In that spirit, let me say that I'm going to give Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) the benefit of the doubt, and assume he simply didn't know better when he used the term "Orientals".

So Rep. Bost, for future reference: please stop saying "Orientals". Or "Oriental", for that matter.

If you're curious why, consult Wikipedia.

I hope you'll take this request in the mild spirit in which it's intended.

However, if you think you're being browbeaten, I hope you'll stop and consider a different perspective.

You may not think it's a big deal, that those of us who object are too sensitive. But you're not the one who has to cope with all the baggage that that term carries. And is it that big a deal for you to honor what is, after all, not that onerous a request?

Some might be inclined to belittle this request as mere political correctness run amok. To them I would reply that "political correctness" is a term seemingly used only by those uninterested in the principle at its heart: civility — common courtesy.

Finally, Rep. Bost, I'm sympathetic to your point that being yelled at in a town hall, without being able to engage in a real discussion with your constituents, is a waste of your time. I hope, though, that you recognize that some of those constituents really do have concerns about Congress' priorities. Give those concerns due consideration.