Bread & Circuses

As the decline of Trump enters the final phase, this post from a year ago – before it all started – works even better than it did then.

Now that no one buys our votes, the public has long since cast off its cares; the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things – bread and circuses!

– Juvenal, Satire X, “Wrong Desire is the Source of Suffering”

The “Fall of Rome” trope has always been an easy one to dismiss. After all, we’re stronger and more connected than they ever were, yes? The public is more literate, our history is stronger, and times are simply different than they were back so very long ago.

Aren’t they?

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No Time for Laughs

What is Trump’s plan to get the United States out of trillions in debt?
Up it to quadrillions of dollars, then declare bankruptcy. He’s a successful businessman.

All kidding aside, it was one Hell of a week. We found out that Mike Flynn did indeed “flip” to give evidence against Trump, although we have yet to learn exactly what he knows. And the Senate rushed through a tax bill scribbled in crayon at the last minute because they were not up against any deadline at all. Or is it because they see the end coming and know they needed to shove something through?

It’s not a time for a bunch of lame jokes, not at all. It’s a time for much better jokes than I have.

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Be Not Afraid

“Be not afraid.”
Saint John Paul II

It may be the start of the joyous holiday season, but it’s time realize a reckoning is upon us. Things are likely to get a whole lot worse.

It’s not about various predators being pushed into the light of day, although that can be unnerving as well. Politics is getting uglier and less predictable, especially with the increasingly crazy president. His eventual removal will bring a sense of relief, but the process is also going to increase tension and possibly even violence.

We are entering a time when we have to manage fear. The only way to manage it is to reject it.

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America Under Attack

America is under attack.

This is hardly a new revelation, but it should be substantially more obvious. Paul Manafort was charged with “conspiracy against the United States,” a charge which is easy to read too much into. Then again, it’s easy to take it far too lightly.

It’s not a conventional war with bombs bursting in air, so it’s very easy to deny that the attack has happened at all. Aren’t we all able to go on with our daily lives? And the answer is a simple “yes”. That’s why it is essential that we understand the nature of the attack and why it is happening, both of which are not very obvious.

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United Nations. Sort of.

President Trump spoke to the UN today. In all fairness, it could have been worse. And, in many ways, it was a re-iteration of what America has been saying for a long time – we have a big military and we intend to use it, but don’t ask us for money to keep the other operations going.

Yet it was bad enough in one singular sense – there is no place for globalism even as we realize larger threats to the entire planet at once. It was a summary of everything that he and his followers stand for in many ways. But what will it mean to the rest of the world?

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E-Z Reform

Republicans need to produce tax reform, but can’t agree on much.  Here is a post from two years ago which outlines an easy way to make something happen and claim victory.  It may even be good policy.

Tax reform is on the minds of many Republican candidates, and that’s a good thing. Donald Trump revealed a plan, suggesting he may be a serious candidate after all. This announcement came as his poll numbers were slipping, so we may have a hint what voters think about actual policies. Jeb Bush released his plan earlier this month with the distinction of being called “weird”.

The point is that we are talking about taxes and serious tax reform, which is good. No one should expect one plan to suddenly spring forward and cut through the elaborate mess we have. Then again, once the knife is out, you could carve a better tax code out of a banana. But what really is needed? What is “simplification” or “reform”? Let’s start at the beginning.

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One Weak Show

In other news, the US Senate failed to pass anything. This hardly seems like news given that they fail to get anything done nearly all the time. But the botched repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, is a special new level of failure.

Normal procedures are completely gone. There is no committee report and there is no estimate from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Stuff is being whipped together in a few hours and thrown onto the floor.

The chaos is much more important than the bills themselves because it seems the Republican leadership, especially Sen McConnell (R-KY) must know better. That can only mean they aren’t even trying. So what, after all, are they doing?

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