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?
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.
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?
Tired of the Trump-Russia stories yet? Well, they are only just beginning. Which is strange because much of the information coming out now could have come out a year ago, if anyone had bothered trying to dig. But the “liberal media” didn’t at the time and has only really started to get going.
If you’re tired of today’s press, you’re far from alone. The problem, however, isn’t bias but a severe case of “shiny object syndrome” where nothing is investigated unless it appears popular.
When former FBI Director James Comey testified in the Senate, it was as if the grown-ups had finally arrived. It wasn’t just the air of authority that this straight talking man projects, either. It was the respectful lack of grandstanding demonstrated by actual US Senators which truly enshrined the moment. Whatever comes of this it’s not going to be childish and stupid.
As I write this, there is another sign that the world may be returning to normal. The results of the UK election are still coming in and they are telling. It’s not that the Conservatives have lost their majority which counts here. It’s the fact that polling in these elections is actually predictive once again. It was absolutely reliable before the last election and the Brexit vote, perfectly predicting the results. Polling is back this time and it appears that the world is actually returning to something like normal.
Not that there isn’t chaos in the hung parliament. But it’s bounded, orderly chaos. Small victory.
Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does.
Trump is clearly the most dangerous when he is hunkered down and connected to reality only by the thin thread of twitter. The last week has apparently felt even more besieged than usual, either out of exhaustion from his trip or in anticipation of James Comey’s testimony to Congress. Either way, the net result has been a disaster – and the worst may well be yet to come.
If it’s not yet clear to everyone that this man is not fit to lead anything it will be soon.
The moment comes about halfway through Mel Brooks’ brilliant 1968 movie “The Producers”. Max Bialystock is deep into his plot to stage the worst musical ever for the purpose of having it close after one performance. All he has to do is raise far more money than the flop could possibly take to stage and no one will ask for their share of the 25,000% of the profits which has been sold to investors. The worst musical ever, “Springtime for Hitler,” has been chosen. It’s now time to cast it.
Hippie Lorenzo Saint DuBois wanders into the casting call and gives his performance. As soon as he says, “If everyone in the world had a flower instead of a gun the world would be one big smell-in!” Bialystock rises triumphantly and declares, “That’s our Hitler!”
It’s the moment when simple comedy runs boldly over the line into farce and never looks back.
So it is with the Trump “budget”. For all we have said about the aspiring dictatorship we can now proclaim that we have our Hitler – but not in the sense anyone expected.