The Talking Dog

May 12, 2017, WTF? WTF?

I'm coming into the party a bit late, so I'll jump in with this piece noting that top Congressional Democrats are calling for a report on Jeff Sessions role in the clusterfuck known as the Jim Comey firing. Thing is, right now we not only have Dick Nixon, without the brains or experience, but on coke, in the Oval Office, but an entire party of treasonous enablers whose sole concern is that they can get right wing judges and policies and more tax cuts for the rich. They (Paul and Mitch, and your committee chairmen, I mean YOU) don't give two shits about the fact that a hostile foreign power has undertaken to interfere in the entire gigantic project known as democracy in the West, through the simple expedient of computer hacking and other activity designed to selectively disrupt elections (though, fortunately, so far at least, only English speaking countries have been stupid enough to actually fall for it.)

And so here we are. This President, thus far, has sacked three high profile officials (former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara and now former FBI Director James Comey) whose portfolios included investigation of his own campaign, its officials (including presumably himself) and their involvement- up to and including deliberate collusion- with Russia and its operatives in order to at least disrupt and quite possibly to change the outcome of the recent national election. And Comey was ignominiously sacked for made up cause, notwithstanding that Comey's own actions probably handed Trump the presidency. Even still it seems, Comey was taken aback by a demand for a pledge of personal loyalty, not to the Constitution, but to der Führer. The relevant movie, it seems, not being All the President's Men, but simply, The Godfather, as nothing short of kissing the Don's (funny that) ring would suffice.

And that's just it. Was this another Saturday Night Massacre (my own theoretical account is here), with Donald Trump in the Nixon role of trying to rid himself of a meddlesome interlocutor? I tend to think it's more Bowling Green Massacre- a completely made-up grievance (what was it again, his handling of the Hillary emails? his showboating? his loss of confidence among FBI rank and file?) Or was it simply that he was pressing the (real) Russian involvement investigation rather than (Bowling Green Massacre again) made up "Obama wire-tapped me" claim?

Then again, maybe it is just Nixon all over again. There are tapes. And Henry Kissinger showed up!

Let me bottom line this for you. Our institutions were designed to block a man like Donald J. Trump from getting anywhere near this position. They have failed us. Mr. Trump, aside from a dearth of public experience (he is of course the only man ever to assume the presidency while never holding either public office or military rank) is also devoid of character, let alone respect for the institutions he is now in charge of. Further, his instincts are those of a tyrant in charge of a family business. Unfortunately, he has a strong racist streak which comes genuinely, whether calling for the executions of the Central Park 5, for which he refuses to apologize even after they were exonerated, to his leadership role in the Obama birth certificate controversy LIE, to his well-known assaults on Mexicans ("rapists and murderers") and Muslims on the campaign trail-- aberrant, racist views which were appallingly popular among Republican primary and ultimately general election voters.

And of course, a President who is both insecure about his popularity, and legitimately concerned about holding his base since he has done everything in his power to alienate all but his most hard-core supporters, has given his supporters the red meat of a travel ban of people from Muslim countries (struck down by the courts), or an immigration crack-down including deportation of undocumented people whose sole offense is being undocumented, or gratuitous reversal of Obama-era environmental regulations (and the House "Obamacare repeal") which seem not to be about policy but trying to disrespect the legacy of the Black President (and who can forget the "Obama wiretapped ME in the [Holy confines of] the Trump tower" canard LIE.)

And amazingly, he is obsessed with the fact that he is not getting fawning press coverage for his appalling excuse for a "government" (which features little more than, as feared, the expression of his own grievances interspersed with his family's attempts to profit from his Office)... oh wait, he did appoint a remarkably un-empathetic hard-right wing (naturally White male) judge to the Supreme Court. Well, Gorsuch is certainly more red meat for the base... but where was I?

Oh yes. His "100 days" have shown an amazing paucity of accomplishment for a man whose own unfortunate popularity carried his party to control of both houses of Congress as well as the presidency.

Which is kind of the only good news. It's true that he is desperately trying to undermine the few checks and balances that there are when the president's own party controls Congress (see above re: strategic firings of those investigating him). But it's also true that there's no evidence that there's anything behind his bravado (see my own "April 1st" interview). We have nothing but a scared little man with extremely limited intellectual capacity, tiny hands and a big mouth; even he knows he's not remotely up to the job, and worse, has chosen to surround himself with sycophants rather than capable operatives, but despite all this, he is still obsessed with good p.r., even though he's not only not entitled to any, but isn't going to get any (except, of course, from sycophant "media" that uncritically cheer-leads for him).

In short, Herr Drumpf ain't Herr Hitler: Hitler knew what he was doing. Doesn't mean someone as unstable and incompetent as the current holder of the presidency in that position isn't extraordinarily dangerous. But, it seems, as long as they get their right-wing judges and tax cuts for the rich, and there are enough hardened racists in the party to keep his approval numbers in the 80's or about among Republicans, his Congressional enablers aren't going to take away the punch bowl or the keys. The republic has suffered fools and survived before.

Surviving this is going to take "all hands on deck" from people of good will; and even with that, we'll still need some luck.

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May 5, 2017, Trump/Ryan Derangement Derangement Syndrome

Everything I want to say on the subject has been said better by Professor Lemieux concerning what's wrong with the chattering classes, to wit, God forbid political coverage tell us the actual substance of a policy, such as the abomination that just passed the House of Representatives that purports to repeal the suddenly-popular-package-of-health-insurance-programs-best-known-as-ACA-or-Obamacare.

Bottom line to Chris Cillizza (formerly of WaPo, now trading his superficial wares at CNN) is that the Democrats sang the lines from a song by "Steam," "Na na na na hey hey goodbye" (or whatever they did) upon passage of the bill in the House [btw, pure payback as the Republicans did that to the Democrats back in the early 90's]... where was I... oh yes... Mr. Cillizza is appalled at the bad sportsmanship... if only our lawmakers behaved "in a more civilized way" the public would like Congress better. Never mind that the substance of the vote would kick tens of millions of people off of health insurance for no reason other than so that extremely rich people would pay even lower taxes than they already do (and health insurance companies' CEOs can get even more obscene bonuses, on which they would pay lower taxes).

Professor Lemieux hearkens back to the 2016 campaign (hell, all campaigns within memory) to note the extraordinary vacuousness of coverage-- the outright anathema to many in the media (yes, Mr. Cillizza, you included, and especially) to cover anything except personalities, and especially anything superficial (especially if it was bad about Hillary), and stay away from actual policy as if it were the plague.

And the nation's reward is that we have a political plague upon us-- the oldest President on record, while being the only one never to hold either public office or military rank (or indeed, so much as an actual job other than working for his own father), whose only saving grace is that he is actually too incompetent (and yes, stupid) to actually implement much of the really harmful policy that he has promised at his Nuremberg-style campaign rallies (which he is still conducting).

And it is in this spirit that we can observe his actually celebrating the potential dismemberment of one of the great advances in public health (at least in terms of sheer number of people brought into the regular system, regardless of any critiques one may level at Obamacare). Perhaps it's not too much of a stretch to see the possibility of actual plague-like consequences of increased mortality?

But why so serious? Who can forget Mr. Cilizza in this:

Fortunately, we have the best meta-takedown ever, right back at ya':

In your face!

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