Thursday, May 11, 2017

President Trump and The Republicans: A Variety Show Look At Their Recent Doings.

How do you write snark about this president?  I can't exaggerate his narcissism or his ignorance.  Every time I try, I end up simply reporting what he actually says, which is that he is the smartest and greatest ever, in all great categories, and anyone who disagrees is evil and crooked and corrupt.

American politics today is a variety show where an evil chorus with skull faces sings menacing songs in the background while a clown capers all across the stage.  The audience must keep an eye on both the clown's random leaps and jumps and what the chorus is up to.

Well, the chorus (the Republicans in the Congress) is up to its usual stuff, and sometimes the clown (Trump) agrees to sing in tune with them.

Thus, the advisory board of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be simplified and made more amenable to the regulated industries by firing as many pesky academic environmental scientists as possible and by probably replacing them with representatives from the regulated polluting industries.  That serves the klepto-capitalist base of the Republican party, but it may be cumbersome for those of us who need to breathe.

The clown and the sinister chorus also agree that voter fraud is a giant problem, where "voter fraud" should be interpreted as "the wrong people voting."  That would be Americans of African descent, Latinx, the poor, and any other group which might vote for Democratic politicians.

That voter fraud of that type is extremely rare is irrelevant, because the real purpose of the executive order Trump signed today to establish an "election integrity" commission is to make it as hard as possible for anyone to vote other than for Republicans.

Put that into the context of the clear evidence of Russian hacking of electorate rolls in 2016 and the clear attempts of Russians to influence American elections, and even a cynic like me will have to insert knitting needles into her eyeballs, because contemplating the "integrity" of that commission is more painful.

And what about all those voting machines?  Who guarantees that they have not been tampered?


Thus, there are moves the Republicans have been able to make with Trump's assistance.  He is convinced that the real vote count for the November 2016 election should have looked more like 100% Trump - 0% vicious vampire bitch from hell, and the sinister chorus is quite willing to back him in his demand for extensive studies of voting inaccuracies in, say, California, but not in, say, Wisconsin.

But in other areas the clown refuses to sing in harmony with the chorus, and in almost every case this is because of his narcissism and impulsiveness.  Consider this excerpt from a recent Economist interview where Trump let us see the real reason for the urgent need to kill the Affordable Care Act:

Another part of your overall plan, the tax reform plan. Is it OK if that tax plan increases the deficit? Ronald Reagan’s tax reform didn’t.
Well, it actually did. But, but it’s called priming the pump. You know, if you don’t do that, you’re never going to bring your taxes down. Now, if we get the health-care [bill through Congress], this is why, you know a lot of people said, “Why isn’t he going with taxes first, that’s his wheelhouse?” Well, hey look, I convinced many people over the last two weeks, believe me, many Congressmen, to go with it. And they’re great people, but one of the great things about getting health care is that we will be saving, I mean anywhere from $400bn to $900bn.

Mr Mnuchin: Correct.
President Trump: That all goes into tax reduction. Tremendous savings.

The whole interview is fun reading.  We learn that Trump has invented Keynesianism all on his own, during the last few days, and that he doesn't know it's against Republican principles.  We also learn how very much every single foreign leader loves him and how fervently they wish to lick his boots.  Now, if only the media followed suit.

And then there's the Comey firing debacle.  An evil goddess might conclude that there's no smoke without fire, that Comey was fired because he was getting too close to Trump himself in the Russian investigations, and that we are back in the Watergate era except without the cunning of Richard Nixon and with a much less principled Republican Party.

But people in Trump's stuff tried to turn this impetuous act of firing into something more carefully considered by arguing that Comey's dismissal had been a thought-out process originating with others in the administration.  Trump torpedoed that boat:

The White House previously said that Mr. Trump acted only after Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, came to him and recommended that Mr. Comey be dismissed. In the letter dismissing Mr. Comey that Mr. Trump signed, it said he was acting on their recommendation. And Vice President Mike Pence, talking to reporters, also said the president had been following the Justice Department officials’ advice.
But in an interview with NBC News on Thursday, Mr. Trump said that Mr. Rosenstein’s opinion had not mattered.
“I was going to fire Comey — my decision,” he told the anchor Lester Holt. “I was going to fire regardless of recommendation. He made a recommendation. He’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy. The Democrats like him. The Republicans like him. He made a recommendation. But regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”

There ya go.  Never mind if Trump made his aides look ridiculous or if he revealed how illogical the grounds for firing Comey were at this point in time; he had to show that he was the boss, the king of the country, that he held the power and made the decisions.  That need is so strong that everything and everybody else must be sacrificed at its altar.

And that is why we have the first tweeting president.

The usual rules of political commentary do not apply to Trump and his administration.  I now believe that we should seek guidance from history books, to find out how people controlled Nero or Caligula or any number of deranged dictators and tyrants, for that is the situation in which we find ourselves.

But even that help would only apply to the capering clown.  We still have the sinister choir to contend with, and to combat that one, we need to have a bigger chorus with stronger songs.  Resist!