Nobody Knew It Would Be So Hard To Keep Trump Out Of The Uncanny Valley

As day 100 nears, I am doubting the president can maintain the “kayfabe” much longer (h/t to Nick Rogers in NYT).  His affirmations are seeming half-hearted, perfunctory; the “100 percent, believe me” suddenly lacks verisimilitude.  He is also slipping into the “uncanny valley,” that is, we are starting to be able to see him as the almost-but-not-quite-human he really is, and it is an awful shock.  He was, for some of us, just a hideous cartoon villain; then he became, unthinkably, president–still pretty cartoonish, but sometimes seemingly capable of learning.  Now, to me, his appearance is appallingly and sickeningly nearly-human, but even more truly that of a robotic puppet (whether Putin’s puppet or not, I am still not quite sure, which is part of the sickening feeling).  In fairness, it must be very hard work for him, at his age, to keep pretending that he has one fig to give about policy, conservative principles, our constitutional republic, our democratic traditions, in short what actually makes us as great as we are, however great that is.  The strain is showing.  Our job as citizens is to stay watchful, and not let ourselves be gaslit.  That, at least, seems easier than it was in January, as Trump, unwilling to discipline himself, breaks kayfabe more often.  No “march for science” can really touch Trump’s appeal to his base, but if he can’t or won’t work hard enough to keep the kayfabe going, he’s most likely going down.  It is up to the opposition, or resistance, or whatever you want to call it, to take advantage by showing us–especially the persuadable swing voters–the small but scary imperfections in  that are making President Trump ever more repulsive.

Blame Canada! But What Took The President So Long?

Hey Trump, why all the farting and cursing?  Why didn’t you just cut to the chase on day one?  Made us wait almost 99 and one half days before you dropped the big one on Canada.  I coulda told you years ago how rough they are on Americans.  The least you can do, because you made us wait so long, is give your loyal base the “thumbs up, thumbs down” thrill of deciding whether to let Canada survive or not.  After the bears and lions (I mean the milk inspectors and the softwood inspectors) tear them up a little, that is.

BTW do the Canadians have nukes or not?  I think the French do, but not real sure.  Better ask Xi Jinping for the true historical history before you make any sudden moves.

Sativa Got Attorney General Sessions All Riled Up Again?

General Sessions says nobody has a sense of humor any more.  Not true.  Says folks oughta give him a break.  Also not true.  If he would lay off the sativa, which apparently riles people up, and tried some mellow indica, he might settle down and quit disrespecting places and preferences that make him say “ick.” Some of us laugh and also say “ick” the minute we see Jeff Sessions’ face, but do we make a big fuss about it and try to lock him up?

Who Cares About 100 Days, Trump? Think About Burning In Hell Sooner Rather Than Later

As President Trump rightly noted, “the first 100 days” is a ridiculous standard.  Nobody with any sense could possibly expect somebody like Trump to measure up to FDR.  I don’t feel any fake urgency for Trump to notch “successes” that might blow up my world or make my health insurance unmanageable.  Stay strong, Trump, don’t let anybody gaslight you into reaching for transient “wins” that will boomerang on your sorry rump come next election day–unless you think you can suppress 24.1 million votes.  So relax, you will burn in hell soon enough, don’t rush it.  You did say that the only way you could ever possibly make it to heaven was to become president.  What exactly is your plan now?  Because you seem to have forgotten about getting into heaven.  Keep your eyes on the prize, or suffer the fate of slobbering for eternity in the lowest circle.  Maybe if you joined your good buddy Bill-O in Rome it would help you FOCUS.

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions Surprised That Judicial Review Still A Thing

You would think that a little dude from Baja Alabama who became Attorney General of the whole dang United States would have just a little bit of inkling that in our beautiful constitutional republic we have judicial review of executive and legislative actions.  You are maybe not ready for the new world of 2017 in which some states and some federal circuit courts are more equal than others.  Would federal judicial review be less surprising if it came from a big ol’ judge in Texas?  Or Alaska?  Would that be big enough?

 

Update: Not gonna give you a break, Mr. Pepe Beauregard Dingleberry Sessions.  Lost my sense of humor a while back.  How about you?  Sativa got you all riled up, little dude?  Try some mellow indica next time.

Why Would Theresa May Toss Head Of EU Parliament In Clink?

Antonio Tajani, head of the EU Parliament, said today, yes you little Englanders can turn back and we would all jump up and down with pleasure if you do turn back from leaving.  Prime Minister Theresa May was quite terribly tempted to toss him in the Clink–had the Clink not been repurposed into a frou-frou hostel, so I am told.  Throw ‘im into the Tower then!

Why do so many little Englanders seem to believe both 1) life stinks because we are being taken advantage of by millions of horrid unruly Europeans from places far away that we have never heard of, and also 2) we will surely be able to continue going on holiday to southern Spain and Portugal and Slovakia and the Croatian coast without any fuss or bother, but they are not going to be allowed in to take our jobs and pollute our beautiful land.  Somehow it is not going to work out.  Twenty-seven European countries are not about to agree unanimously to set a precedent making it painless for any one of them to opt out of the bothersome parts but keep the freebies, especially free trade and movement.

Even if plenty of the English–the Scots and Welsh are plenty pro-EU already–wake up to the need for loss aversion pronto, what and whom would they want to vote for?  (This was, sadly, a big problem last fall in the US.)  Jeremy Corbyn has had the luxury for decades of seeing the EU as a club for capitalists, but now it’s for real, and I have no idea what he wants to do should he find himself empowered.  Maybe Nicola Sturgeon could emerge as the leader of a coalition bloc, and seize the Prime Ministership!  Then we have a new script for saboteur-crushing, would we not?  Prorogation could take a surprising turn; new prerogatives could emerge.  There could indeed be back-turning and turning back, 500 years after Luther said that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

Is 1000 Times No-President Overseeing No-Ship No-Armada From His No-Room?

The U.S.S. No-Ship No-Armada may be headed toward No. Korea, or not.  But our president is most definitely no-madman, he just sits on his golden chair in his no-chamber and, whenever he feels like it, wanders from no-room to no-room, presciently knowing where the no-applause is loudest.  No I have never read any science fiction, this is real news.

Out-Crazying Kim Jong-Un–What Could Go Wrong?

Trump’s apparent use of “madman theory” logic to get his way (whatever that is on any given day) on healthcare probably won’t intimidate Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer.  Will Trump-as-madman succeed any better on the Korean peninsula?  Are we the people ready for an American president who can actually out-crazy Kim Jong-un?  We elected him.  We knew that no-drama-Obama was getting old.  We wanted a little excitement.  How much excitement?  That’s what China is wondering!  Their foreign minister just put our president on the same level as Kim by urging “all parties” to stop “provoking” each other. Should we blush with embarrassment?  Trump, who says he comprehends very well, listened to Xi Jinping explain thousands of years of Korean history in ten minutes (or less, believe me) and now grasps very very well how to put America first by using the craziest words and threatening to use the biggest bombs.  And why worry that Kim might be even more unpredictable than our president?  North Korea has an excellent system of checks and balances, many people say.  Their National Security Council is far more fully staffed than ours, so I hear.  Their family dynasty, as Mr. Xi no doubt explained to his U.S. counterpart, is much more experienced than ours.  So they will surely do the right thing.  Oh right, we still have to worry about Trump–oops.

Unquiet Flow The Policies Of The Don

For example, let us consider the unplanned non-obsolescence of NATO.  In the same breath, the president reminded us that he had said NATO was obsolete and informed us that NATO was no longer obsolete.  Don’t even get me started on trying to figure out where the United States as such stands on Russia, let alone Syria, China, North Korea…  I believe I grasp that the important point to remember is this: my president is the big strong man who tells me what is true and what is fake, and when he decides that there is a new, different, and probably opposite truth it is on me to avoid whiplash.

New, Improved Philosophy of History: “I Inherited A Mess,” And Good Luck Holding Me Accountable For Anything

Renowned philosopher of history Donald J. Trump enunciated his cardinal principle today in a press conference with the King of Jordan.  “The world is a mess; I inherited a mess.”  This all-purpose hermeneutical key to interpreting Mr. Trump’s non-accountability for all subsequent events was delivered with a straight face.  Yet one cannot help wonder why the man bothers to continue waking up in the morning and being president for yet another day.  If all his predecessors made such a hash, missed so many opportunities, and in general FAILED, and Mr. Trump consequently cannot possibly be responsible for today’s disasters, what exactly is his job description?  Breaking Update: Trump: “I do change. I am flexible… I now have responsibility…it is now my responsibility.”  How about that.  We should probably get ready for the Obliviate Memory Charm.  P.S.  Obama did also say “I inherited a mess,” but those who can recall the financial crisis of 2008 know that he did in fact inherit a big mess.

Jaw-Jaw With Our “Island Monkey” President

Among the many insulting labels Germans attach to the British is “island monkeys,” according to today’s London Times. Donald Trump, despite being half-German, might perhaps have in him just a touch of the island monkey .  Fresh off his exuberant welcome of Egyptian tyrant al-Sisi yesterday in the Oval Office,  President Donald J. “Island Monkey” Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago to jaw-jaw with Xi Jinping.  Does Trump believe he needs anyone other than Jared Kushner to brief him on the issues?  I don’t wish to misunderestimate Mr. Trump’s brain at all.  And maybe he is listening in private to some people with actual up-to-date and historically informed knowledge of our economic and military relationship with China and East Asia.  I don’t care if he doesn’t even read the one-page memos, so long as he listens and adapts.  In an interview with the Financial Times published last weekend, Trump said that with respect to China, “our country hasn’t had a clue…. the past administration hasn’t had and many administrations–I don’t want to say only Obama; this has gone on for many years–they haven’t had a clue.  But I do.”  Hope Trump’s hubris works out better than I expect.  Trump may be quite right that some previous presidents did not make the most of our leverage vis-a-vis China.  But nostalgia for the glory days of America’s imperial zenith (which just happen to coincide with Trump’s own youth) is unlikely to be the winning formula for cutting great-for-America deals with China.

General Michael (aka “Mikhail,” “General Misha”) Flynn: Guilty Rightwing Snowflake? Or Victim of Witch-Hunt?

President Trump says give General Mikhail “Misha” Flynn immunity.  Witness-tampering by a sitting president?  Does that even count as “breaking news” anymore?  And Flynn, poor little fellow,  though in fairness he did say way back in 2016 that anybody who gets immunity is guilty.  What of deviance–has it been defined down so much we can’t even feel it anymore?  And wouldn’t a witness be given immunity if and only if they are going to implicate somebody higher up?  Who is the only person higher up than National Security Adviser?

Did God Punish Poor White Trump Voters By Leaving Their Healthcare Untouched?

Could the Almighty have such a refined sense of irony that poor white Trump voters were punished this week by G-d leaving their health benefits intact?  Maybe G-d does not really believe in karma?  It was real problematic for a lot of folks to have to take healthcare entitlements and handouts from a skinny black dude.  But times change, and now we have a really rich, old, large, obnoxious white man in the White House.  It would be awful if everybody who needed to get low-cost care got cut off now.  Thank goodness the Freedom Caucus understood all this and preserved our Obamacare just when we were starting to think of it as the Affordable Care Act (surprise!).  Just hoping the

Is It Wrong To Give The Republicans The Benefit Of The Soft Bigotry Of Low Expectations?

Answer: yes, it is wrong to give the president and the Speaker of the House the benefit of the soft bigotry of low expectations for failing to enact the agenda they have promised lo these last seven years.  I urge them to stop blaming one another.  Personal responsibility is a virtue.  Without virtue where are we as a constitutional republic.  This is no time for spin.  This is the time to accept accountability.  Rather than whining that “who knew x, y, or z was so complicated,” why not take as a starting point, “my previous career as a con artist was supposed to be a transferable skill, but the rules sure are different down here in the swamp.  They actually like to read the fine print.  Every goddamn last one of them is a lawyer and a future lobbyist.  And they might be even more mendacious than me.”

The Buck Never Stops With Me And I Will Not Have Your Back

Does Donald J. Trump realize that he is president?  Is he saying he is going to actively sabotage the Affordable Care Act so that we the people will be reduced to begging for relief?  Does he realize that one of the men standing next to him today, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, has plenty of regulatory discretion over the health exchanges.  Price can undermine the health of Americans in many ways.  Or help make things easier for people trying to get health care via sensible and flexible administrative rules and regulations.  Trump is never willing to be blamed, for anything, but from today forward controlling the “narrative” and deflecting accountability is going to get harder.

Finding A Trout In The Milk

“Circumstantial evidence” is in the news today.  As I heard it, Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, says he has evidence, not just circumstantial, of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians.  Henry David Thoreau wrote that “some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”  I would say where we are right now re Trump/Russia is that we have seen the trout in the milk.  Some people are anxious or eager for even more evidence.  I imagine Schiff is sitting on evidence even stronger than trout in the milk.  Not sure if it will impress or convince everybody who needs to be convinced and impressed, but there is already more than enough smoky milky trout for me.

Could Meals On Wheels Make Any Good Use Out Of Mick Mulvaney, Paul Ryan, or Steve Bannon?

Other than cooking up a very pale and thin bone broth, that is (hat tip Jordan Weissmann of Slate)?  Mick Mulvaney channelled Lord John Russell’s laissez-faire ideology (hat tip to Charlie Pierce’s Esquire blog) during the Irish potato famine, on the day before St. Patrick’s Day!  He did not actually say that the poor should be boiled into bone broth.  Paul Ryan did not say that his legislative agenda owes even more to Lord Russell than to latecomer Ayn Rand.  Mulvaney, Ryan, and Bannon did not say that they are white and that that makes all the difference as far as immigration goes.  God apparently has not yet taught these sons of Ireland enough of a lesson about their history.  But until then their Anglo-Teutonic overlord Trump is making good use of them.

Trump Doth Not Wrong But With Just Cause

Congressional Republicans eager to “walk the plank” and vote for the House repeal-and-rejoice health bill should take note: Trump did never wrong.  Trump will never do or be wrong.  You will be sacrificed.  Many of your constituents will be sacrificed.  Trump will always act with just cause.  You may or may not be a loser.  But Trump will not and cannot ever be blamed.  Paul Ryan may say whatever he wants, on tape or not.  Trump doth not wrong but with just cause.

Republican Plan To Suppress 24.1 Million Votes Following CBO Report 24 Million Losing Healthcare

Paul Ryan said he was “excited” and “encouraged” by the CBO report that Trumpcare/Ryancare will cause just 24 million Americans to lose their healthcare insurance.  Ryan is said by some to have planned to suppress 24.1 million votes in the midterm elections.  So it’s all good.  Cost-benefit analyses that a Koch group may well have carried out show that the cost of voter suppression, even on the grand scale needed to invalidate 24.1 million votes, is far cheaper than the cost of allowing Americans to feel that they are not serfs any longer.

If Trump Wants To Be As Popular As Obama And Obamacare, He Has A Way Forward

Well-known philosopher Donald J. Trump, who is a master of comprehending life and human nature, may have found a path to popular acclaim.  Mr. Trump, let’s be real: you crave popular approval, and former president Obama’s approval ratings have clearly gotten under your thin skin.  Also Obamacare’s approval ratings have shot up.  Human nature, as you say–we are already missing our water.  As you yourself said today: “the press is making Obamacare look so good suddenly.  I’m watching the news.  It looks so good.  It’s a little bit like President Obama.  When he left, people liked him.  When he was here, people didn’t like him so much.  That’s the way life goes.  That’s human nature.”

There is a way out of your low popularity, sir.  It is simple: the way out is the exit door, which for your convenience is marked “EXIT.”  I for one am totally prepared to miss you, and even to speak fondly of the many great things you could have accomplished, had you only stuck it out, and matured, and experienced a radical conversion, all of which was possible, if wildly improbable.  But no need to hesitate over hypotheticals.  Sky-high approval numbers are yours for the taking, Mr. Trump.

Take The Ribbon From Your Hair, President Trump

Didn’t you promise you were going to help us make it through the night, Mr. President Trump?

“I am going to take care of everybody.”

“There will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid.  Huckabee copied me.”

“Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”

I don’t care who’s right or wrong, Mr. Trump.  You could even copy Huckabee and put a squirrel in your White House microwave and if you liked it a lot I would not judge you for that.  But keep your promises.  Or at least try.  Don’t complain about how complicated healthcare is.  That’s a precious snowflake excuse.  And don’t listen to Paul Ryan.  He’s a zombie moocher who lived off Social Security for two years after his daddy died when Paul was just sixteen.  He is probably still ashamed of it.  Don’t mind him, and for heaven’s sake don’t think he’s a “policy wonk.”  He doesn’t even understand insurance at all if he doesn’t realize it’s about healthy people paying for sick ones.  Because even you, Mr. Trump, are going to get old and sick and dependent and vulnerable.  So let the devil take tomorrow, Mr. Trump.

P.S. So glad your man on health care, Dr. Tom Price, said yesterday “no one will be worse off financially” when Trumpcare kicks in.  I am making a note of how much I paid in premiums in 2016 and putting it in a safe place, and you can be sure that I will not pay any more while you are president, sir.  And I know you won’t put me in debtors’ prison.  Plus I can keep thinking what I’m thinking and drinking what I’m drinking–no more no less so I won’t be any worse off.  Feeling pretty good now.  Would hate to see you mess up my good feeling.

Feeling The Fresh Air Of Freedom To Fall Through The Cracks In The Floor Of Our Healthcare System

The House Republican talking points pamphlet this morning has me feeling the fresh breeze of freedom.  The freedom of a free market in health care being restored.  The House Speaker, Paul Ryan, says over and over that Obamacare stinks.  I get it.  It was no good at all to take handouts from a black Democrat.  Now our brand new Trump president will provide us with wonderful care for everybody, and it will be cheaper, and so much better.  I don’t even want to hear the details because that might mess up how I feel right now, which is great.  As a happy serf.  Did I mention that Obamacare stinks?  Funny that the Republican talking points don’t even mention the Affordable Care Act at all.  But don’t mess with my Affordable Care Act, it’s working real well.

Good Or Bad?–That Trump Does Not Know We Are Not Yet Ruled By Personal Dictatorship

“How low has President Obama gone to tapp {sic} my phones during the very sacred election process,” tweeted the President today.  “Bad…sick…McCarthyism…is it legal” and so forth.

President Trump does not seem afraid to up the ante.  Is he ready for a discovery process involving an independent counsel with subpoena power?  (Yes the independent counsel law expired, but all things are possible–including presidential declassification of anything or everything involving Russian interference in the 2016 election.)

President Trump appears to think that presidents act by fiat, via personal dictatorship, not constrained by other independent and coequal branches of government.  Presidents do not themselves order wiretaps.  We have executive branch lawyers who seek warrants via judges–last I heard.

Does President Trump have a problem with McCarthyism?  If so, how exactly does he object to Senator Joe McCarthy’s playbook, which included guilt-by-association tactics and anonymously-sourced smears?  Does President Trump accuses President Obama of acting like “Nixon/Watergate” but does not elaborate or provide any evidence.  What exactly about Richard Nixon or Watergate does President Trump condemn?

Could President Trump have a point, in the midst of his unsupported allegations, that the United States has a problem with “deep state” subversion of our “very sacred election process”?  Maybe so–all the more reason to get going on a truly independent investigation.  A partisan, politicized, ostrich-like, paralyzed Congress does not seem up to the task.  Jeff Sessions’ deputy is unlikely to be credible and authoritative.  That leaves an independent counsel (possible downside that non-criminal but horrible actions could end up being bypassed) or an independent commission (typically very slow-moving).  Maybe there are other, better options.