One week into the 2020s, and it's already looking like this decade is going to be a bitch.
I'll forego the standard crack about how there are already over three billion dead New Year's resolutions. I liken New Year's resolutions to Groundhog Day. I can't believe we still bother with either.
I'm sure a lot of those resolutions were broken, in part, due to the recent back and forth between the United States and Iran. Once again, President Trump shows what a stable genius looks like by not only trying to start a war to distract from his latest impeachment woes, but by then doubling down and publicly threatening to violate the Geneva Convention (otherwise called war crimes). Just when I thought the height of chutzpah was publicly committing impeachable offenses on the south lawn of the White House.
Lost on far too many people is or will be the deafening silence from the Republican Party in yet another "should have been the straw that broke the back" moment. Not that each and every single one of the House or Senate Republicans should not already be ashamed of their petulant crying, yelling, screaming, whining, bitching, and moaning about "the process" in defense of their criminally incompetent leader. You know, that same "process" they were willing to defend to the death when the issue at hand was being lied to about a blowjob.
It is perhaps this, and the sudden, knee-jerk decision to raise the smoking age to 21, that makes this an election season full of intrigue for me. The President who said he'd end the never-ending war is on the precipice of starting another war to keep people's minds off impeachment and try to bolster his reelection bid. And before the even got that far, he told a chunk of the population that while they are young and fit enough to be cannon fodder, just not young and fit enough to make their own minds up about smoking. And this is a guy who knows health. His dad got the best market rate in Manhattan for his son's bone spurs.
Then again, at least the youth of our nation can still watch R-rated movies and buy lottery tickets. For now. Can't wait to see how the youth vote swings this November.
The 2020 presidential election season now in full swing, with primaries or caucuses coming up fast in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, it will be interesting to see how the Democratic Party primary challengers take the latest Trumpian nonsense to the campaign trail as they also prepare for the eventuality that Mitch McConnell is forced to hold an actual Senate trial. None of us are buying into the notion that McConnell is all of a sudden going to find his pair and remember he is a United States Senator, rather than our criminally incompetent President's political wingman.
I would say it would be interesting to see what the Republican Party primary challengers strategy or talking points will be, in light of increasing U.S.-Iranian tension, but honestly, who the hell actually cares about either one? I mean, kudos to Joe Walsh for shouldering a bit of the blame when it came to creating the current overflowing toilet that is our political culture (plus, for full disclosure, we follow each other on Twitter), but Don Quixote had better odds against the windmill. As for Bill Weld, he can go crawl in a hollow log and die. Politically speaking, of course.
While deep down I know we are just going to see a shift in power from one side of the two-party duopoly to the other. In this environment, with the utter degradation of American political process from both sides of the mainstream coin, I yearn for a third-party uprising this year. Across the board. If not even some victory, at least widespread decent showings. Because very simply, if the public-at-large doesn't start gaining some awareness of the slowly tightening choke hold our government has and will continue to inflict on us, then sooner rather than later, your "binary choice" is only going to be between the screwing you're getting and the screwing you're taking.
Another week, another basket full of examples as to why I and many other people will remain mystified to our dying day how so many people turned into rabid idiots overnight and elected worst case scenario Donald Trump to the highest office in the land.
Did anyone, for even the hottest of seconds, actually believe that Donald Trump would own his impending shutdown? If you did, and you are not part of the President’s base- The Walking Derp, then you should probably buy a hat and start attending rallies, because you are most likely infected with a serious case of The Dumbass. From the instant it left his mouth, caught in the current of bullshit and nonsense normally flowing forth, I knew he would pull some fake news/distraction/deflection tactic. Instead, we get classic Trump, the Trump as original as a wet fart. The President of the United States of America has shit his pants and is currently attempting to blame the opposition party for the smell in the room.
For all the talk of the latest ‘adult in the room’ turning in his walking papers, I cannot help but point out a couple of problems with that concept and terminology. Men like Jim Mattis, John Kelly, and Rex Tillerson were adults when they walked into that room. They knew damn good and well that they were leaving long and accomplished careers to go to work for a proven pathological liar, a con man, a racist, a sexual deviant, and a man so wholly unfit for office that it should never even made the pages of the most fevered daydream. That they reached their breaking point, in the cases of Kelly or Mattis, or for be too publicly smarter than the President, in the case of Tillerson, is unimportant. For whatever altruistic reasons they may have had for taking their positions, they do not matter. The only adult in the room that will ever be capable of getting through to our President would first face the challenge of getting Trump to sit still long enough to watch the pocket watch swinging.
I counted myself among those relatively few people that did not freak out upon the election of Donald Trump as President. I fought the urges every morning to think for a half a second I was in a bad episode of a bad sitcom, waking up in a country with a President Trump. I was perfectly willing to give him the first 100 days, just like I have given every President in my adult life. I let the Trump social media circus, the political equivalent to Juggalos, hoot and holler. I was going to be an adult, and wait to start criticizing when he started inevitably fucking things up. We all then saw how long it took for him to start fucking things up.
So, I made criticisms. There were fair criticisms, some less fair, some lightly profane, some that I would have said tiptoed so precariously close to the edge as to actually make me worry (had our President not seen the line, then dragged his balls over it while spouting conspiracy theories and various insults during the campaign), only to be reminded of the extremely tenuous relationship between Trump, his supporters, and facts and reality.
But that is not to say Trump has been a complete and total disaster. I mean, 99% is still pretty much complete and total disaster-range, but there is still that 1% that can actually be worked with.
The current frontrunner for best example is Trump’s edict that for every new regulation a federal agency proposes, they have to identify “at least two existing regulations to be repealed.” While still a little vague, at face value it is exactly what he says it is- the elimination of more regulations than we create. As one of many who has watched one Trump campaign promise after another crumple and die, screaming in the daylight, there is the apprehension of execution versus a three day tweetstorm explaining whoever else’s fault it was. As one of many who actually want that smaller government we keep talking out, this is a thin ray of sunlight breaking through the rubble.
Unfortunately, however, for every Trump supporter that has no connection with facts or reality, there seems to be one on the left of the spectrum that will equally disconnect from facts or reality as needed based on the mere notion that President Lying Orange Snack Food proposed it.
The facts and reality are simple. It is the extreme and onerous amounts of regulations that do more to strangle the business environment in the United States than the corporate tax rate, or banks not lending, or anything else. It is the added cost to businesses, particularly in manufacturing, that stifle investment, expansion, and hiring.
It is the smaller businesses that bear the brunt of the cost of dealing with regulations, and the fines that can accompany noncompliance. Those costs are what prevents hiring employees and expanding operations, if the business can even get off the ground to begin with. Think I’m kidding? Google up John Stossel on starting a lemonade stand in New York City, and get back with me.
There will be those who will breathlessly argue that a push for deregulation is tantamount to corporate welfare, that the Trump administration is doing nothing more than handing America over to big business. It may be a righteous contention, but it’s a contention that ignores that a good portion of that America will be handed back to small businesses, who have a bigger hand in this country that those automatically against big businesses or smaller government are willing to admit when the numbers aren’t in their favor.
It is always such a striking moment in time, catching the look on the Emperor’s face when he finally figures out the big deal about his new wardrobe. With the Hindenburg-style crash and burn of President Trump’s healthcare plan on Friday, we got to see the Emperor, in the middle of town square, buck naked and realizing why it’s been so damn chilly the last few weeks.
The guy who ran on the premise of doing whatever the hell he wanted to looked like a teenager getting the car keys taken away when he discovered what everyone with even a spit and whistle of common damn sense had been saying from election night to the inauguration- this is not a do whatever the hell you want job.
Then again, why wouldn’t he have walked into the White House like a bull in a china shop? He ran on the premise of doing whatever the hell he wanted, because he did exactly whatever the hell he wanted to on the campaign trail, and there was outrage with no substance behind it. Whether that’s the fault of the mainstream media, fake news, real news, Russia, Wikileaks, the uneducated voters, the Republican Party, or even The Legion of Doom is debatable, but the bottom line remains the same. The china shop invited the bull in. Don’t look confused at the end of the day, when you are sweeping up the broken stuff and wondering what happened. You invited a bull into a china shop, and it’s too late to break out the bubble wrap.
But the bull found the floor a bit slick coming into Friday. With a bill that was already gasping and wheezing, it was just a matter of time before someone got it over with and stuck the fork in it. So then, there was Trump, suddenly out in the cold and exposed. His son-in-law was so keen on the process he grabbed the skis and bolted for Colorado, and Trump’s policy expertise was overhyped but knocked out early when he was wheeling and dealing the bill around Congress.
And now, coming into Monday, President Trump has three possible pages in his playbook he can turn to. The safe bet is he blames the Democrats for the bill’s failure, he can run a trick play and fool us by ceding some power to the anti-establishment wing that threw policy at him and made him look woefully unprepared while not getting a damn thing he wanted, or he can go full-on Hail Mary and try to build coalitions with the Democrats, you know, the people he’s already blamed for this fiasco turning into a cluster. You can guess which one he’s already run, and for no gain.
And for all the mixed metaphors and various clichés in this commentary, it seems to be a fitting summary of the Trump administration thus far- a naked Emperor trying a ride a bull and play football in a china shop. Too bad the reality will be back around to greet the President every morning when he wakes up. Or as close to reality as he is willing to allow himself to get.
So, this morning, I launched the very first official Blog.Type.Thing. Poll, to measure reaction to President Trump's first joint address to Congress. Judging by a pre-speech poll I conducted yesterday, there was not a lot of optimism heading into the speech (only 15% were positive of the potential tone of the speech), but that seems to have enjoyed a big swing in the first few hours following the President's remarks.
While to me, it mostly seemed like the same boilerplate speech, with the right hearing nothing but good things, the left hearing nothing but unintelligible grunting, and the rest of us left to kick around what was actually said, to the country at-large (at least represented by my wee Twitter sample), their ears perked up and trended to the positive.
There are two ways I am interpreting these numbers- Either 53% Positive (32% outstanding + 21% fair), 47% Negative (15% less than fair + 32% disaster) or Positive (32%), On the Fence (21% fair + 15% less than fair), and Negative (32%). So you can either look at it as Trump finishing positive, or holding a fairly even keel between positive and negative, with just enough people representing the waffle state to allow Trump to remain at the water line.
So, this leads one to wonder if Trump is actually managing to start taking things seriously like approval ratings. Approval, after all, ranks right behind popularity and adoration as the reasons Trump gets out of bed in the morning. Teleprompter or not, he stuck to the script in a way he had been unable to accomplish up until this point.
Whether this is an improbable epiphany remains to be seen. There are still a lot of irons in Trump’s fire, and just because he has managed to go a day without grabbing the hot end doesn’t mean we should hold out hope for a painless road ahead.
“We need to start winning wars again.” Our President, whether or not you support him, actually said that today. At first glance, it’s really very easy to smack your forehead and proclaim “what the fuck!,” when the reality is you can stare that statement cold all day long and proclaim “what the fuck!,” and have it feel like the first time, every time. Not that it’s a great feeling, but still…
Maybe our President should worry about backing up all the actual candidate-type stuff he said along the campaign trail. Like taking better care of our troops and our veterans. Like maybe not expressing some sort of deep-seated desire to put our military in harm’s way. The only thing more implicitly unsettling than the empire building of recent decades would be using our President’s runaway addiction to boosting his ego as mortar to hold that empire together.
We have the most technologically advanced military force in the world, in the whole of human history, at least on paper. I make that statement rather bluntly, as if we had the most technologically advanced military force in the world, than our troops on the ground would reflect that. Our veterans and the overall level of care would reflect that. Then again, our President, rumored by some to be the healthiest person to ever be elected President, nay, to even ever draw a breath of fresh American air, was remarkably less than 100% during his years of draft eligibility. But I'm sure we're all glad he's feeling better.
Instead, we have combat troops that are either equipped like an inner-city little league team, or they are having to buy their own equipment. If situations like that are allowed to occur in theaters of combat, then you know damn good and well that situations like that are happening with military units within our own borders. The most modern fighting force on Earth, and the troops have to buy their own duct tape to fix shit.
So now, on top of plans to have us pay for his much-ballyhooed border wall with Mexico, the President wants $54 billion more added to our already flat fucking insane defense budget. Somewhere, somehow, we are expected or supposed to believe that our President, the Ivy League-educated paragon of pure business knowledge and brilliance that he purports himself to be, is going to pull off these crazy spending projects, combined with a tax cut plan hovering between half- and quarter-assed?
But, to play a bit of devil’s advocate, our President is partially correct when he says we need to start winning wars again. We need to start winning wars of economics, domestically and internationally, and adding tens of billions of dollars of absolute nonsense, with no clearly defined plan on how that’s going to be paid for, is the equivalent of throwing yourself on your own damn grenade. And while our President is off throwing himself on grenades but graciously allowing us to take the shrapnel, we should be asking where we’re going to get enough duct tape to fix this fucking mess?
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