Friday, October 20, 2017

Gridlock



My next newspaper column. It's decidedly local but, perhaps, an issue with wider relevance. The backstory is there's a guy in these parts who makes a fine living (a quarter mill a year, it's reported) cranking out voter initiatives (yeah, WA is one of those states, for better or worse, mostly worse) that play on the anti-tax, anti-government sensation that's sweeping the nation.
When we arrived here thirty-five years ago the Mukilteo Speedway passed mostly through forest. Harbor Pointe and Seaway/Merrill Creek didn’t exist, nor did many of the apartments downtown and along Casino Road. Mill Creek and much of what’s now part of Mukilteo hadn’t yet been incorporated. The Navy wasn’t here, or its developments in Marysville, or the crowded shopping malls to the north.  
Back then we could drive to Seattle in about half an hour almost any time. Bumbershoot could be enjoyed for $2.50 (free on Fridays) with room to spread out. The population of Snohomish county was about 350,000. One of the fastest growing counties in the country, it’s now nearly 800,000. If there’s an end in sight, it’s invisible to me.  
The “Negotiated Agreement,” which, we were told by our realtor, meant Paine Field would never become a commercial airport, was smoke. Bringing even more people, Alliant Air and United Airlines are first in line. And, because it looks like Northwest Washington will be the last part of the US to become uninhabitable due to climate change, still more will flock here, needing places to live; good news for builders. Both Everett mayoral candidates favor upzoning for taller buildings downtown, for more “density.” There’s gotta be point at which it becomes unsustainable: overcrowded, gridlocked, polluted, parched. 
But unabated population growth in these parts looks to be a permanent condition. If land in Everett and Mukilteo is about tapped out, there are still nearby farms to be converted, a few uncut trees, more zoning laws to change. Our freeways are maxed already. Social services, too. Police and fire protection, water resources, air quality, sewage treatment and, eventually, even power supplies, can’t support this rate of expansion forever. Much as I’d like, selfishly, to see a moratorium on growth I know it won’t happen. Too much depends on it. Candidates say no to more taxes, but yes oh yes to more taxpayers. 
The good news is there’s effective action we can take in response to unstoppable growth, and we must do it, now, before it’s too late. Happily, it requires almost no effort: Just say no. 
To Tim Eyman.  
Say no to his latest ploy for self-enrichment, cranking out initiatives, counting on American heads remaining in the sand.  
Apparently caring as little about quality of life here as Donald Trump cares about air, water, climate, education, equal rights, and access to healthcare everywhere, Eyman has offloaded yet another self-serving initiative, this one aimed at reversing our commitment to mass transit. Betting we’d prefer a permanent traffic jam over paying for a half-way livable future is a safe bet: he makes his money on the presentation, not the outcome. He wins either way, even if we don’t. (Which is why, I believe, he’s written initiatives that get struck down by courts: whipped outrage equals more donations. Even his latest b.s over “b.s.” fits the pattern: repeatedly bleating victimhood = ink = cash flow.)  
Because half of America has come to prefer ignoring those things which sustain us, it appears Eyman figures campaigning against taxes assures him of continuing to take (us via) the initiative. It has to stop. This is about far more than car tabs. It’s (sticking) a fork in the road. This is one of those times when, as citizens (and patriots!) we’re called upon to look beyond self-interest, for the sake of the future: our own and our neighbors,’ our children’s, and theirs. When the right thing to do is not, as a recent letter-writer proudly bragged, to “vote with my wallet,” but to vote with one’s heart and head (not to mention carbonized lungs). 
If just societies are conceived for the betterment of individuals through the power of many, it’s by individual willingness to share responsibility that societies survive. (Having splurged on an electric car, my RTA tax took a breathtaking leap. But, hey…)  
No crystal ball is required to see the consequences of voting for Eyman’s latest. If we can’t do anything about growth, we simply must do more about mass transit. Decades of cunctation have already increased costs. Not paying now will bankrupt us when there’s no choice. Money “saved” is a future lost. 
And, yes, it’s about time for a conversation about when enough growth is enough.  
[Image source]

Friday, October 13, 2017

Speaking Of Neiling: Winning Is Everything


The upcoming newspaper column:
It’s clear to all but the Foxified why Mitch McConnell bested his prior Himalayan heights of hypocrisy to block President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. Women’s health, immigration, LGBT rights, same-sex marriage? Just frosting on the wedding cake; Mitch cares about them only to propitiate the basest Republican base. It was to protect the means by which his party has the presidency and both houses of Congress: egregious gerrymandering and dishonest voter suppression laws. Both issues are at or approaching the Supreme Court, where Neil Gorsuch isn’t even pretending he’s not a partisan zealot. 
You lost, they say. Get over it. Yes. We did. Everyone lost. Democracy lost. Getting over it before addressing what happened is exactly what Trump and Republicans in Congress and state legislatures want. Vladimir Putin, too.  
But it was the Electoral College, people say. Yes. Conceived when there were no political parties, no popular elections, or, for that matter, announced candidates. If we’re to keep it, let’s return to original intent: states choose electors who, on their own, sequestered from the rest of us, meet to select our president. They could wear wigs and work by the light of whale oil.  
But it empowers small states, they say. Yes. Which already have disproportionate power in the Senate. In the House, too, where gerrymandered red states’ districts unequally produce Republican winners, and where fewer citizens are represented by their elected, giving residents of small states relatively more influence over legislation. Gerrymandering turns minorities into majorities.  
If any position deserves popular election, with every vote having the same weight, it’s the president of all of us. Why should a Nebraskan have more impact on the choice of president than, say, a Washingtonian? This time, the Electoral College got us exactly what the founders wished to prevent: kakistocracy.  
But it is what it is. So let’s talk about voter suppression. Again. Because it’s as un-American and dangerous as a president threatening (non-existent) “licenses” of news networks he doesn’t like; i.e., all but one.  
Notwithstanding Trumtalitarian lies, multiple investigations have found approximately zero in-person voter fraud, the wink-wink reason for red states’ voter ID laws. In the past election, hundreds of thousands of legitimate voters were denied. The vast majority were Democrats, and the number of those denied far exceeded the numbers by which Trump narrowly won those states. If Trump’s patently phony “voter fraud” commission has its way, it’ll get worse. 
Get over it, they say. We’ll get around to caring when it’s your nominee who benefits. Besides, what’s wrong with requiring identification, they ask? Nothing, if it’s as easily obtainable for the poor, elderly, and people in minority districts as it is for white Republicans. But the requirements and locations for obtaining ID were designed specifically to make it harder. Legislators in those states admitted it. Some lower courts have recognized the fraud. Do states even have a right to deny the franchise in a federal election? Enter the Mitchdefied Supreme Court, where democracy confronts hypocrisy.  
There’s more. Russian interference: sophisticated, relentless, carefully targeted. Until Robert Mueller makes it undeniable, let’s ignore collusion: it’s bad enough without it. Clearly they wanted Trump in office. (Will we learn why?) What they did should alarm everyone. (Instead of “Jews will not replace us,” this time Nazi re-marchers in Charlottesville chanted “Russia is our friend.” Donald Trump, busy reversing rules that protect our planet, neglecting Puerto Rico, and ignoring California wildfires, said nothing.) 
The extent of Russian use of social media to plant fake news has become disturbingly clear. If it’s hard, for now, to know the effect, suffice it to note the multimillions of times those messages were shared. They attempted to corrupt voter rolls in Democratic precincts, and may have succeeded. But Trump and his airwave propagandists, dismissing the constitutional threat, insist reporting it is the real fake news. Who can wonder why? 
Donald Trump (considered a moron by his SecState), his cabinet of grifters, and many R congressdwellers are in office because of voter suppression, gerrymandering, and direct and indirect meddling by a foreign enemy. If it’s reassuring on some level that such people couldn’t have won by legitimate means, all Americans should be alarmed that illegitimacy prevailed. Because, who knows, next time it could be Democrats.  
(Some have noticed: I haven't been including hotlinks lately. For the paper version of the newspaper column, I'd added tinyURLs for readers to use if they chose to, which some people complained were distracting. And since the Foxified ignore them and the well-informed don't need them, I've stopped. For the blog version I'd been converting those URLs to direct links. I prefer to provide that documentation, but for now...)   

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Unoriginal Questions



If kneeling disrespects the flag, what does it mean that people do it in church? Or before the Queen? Why doesn't she lop off their heads?

[Image source]

Friday, October 6, 2017

Guns. And Lies


Tomorrow's newspaper column, today:
Now isn’t the time to talk about it, the White House said, and Sean Hannity agreed. They were right, of course, because only hours after the horror in Las Vegas there was a multiple murder in Massachusetts. Then Kansas. Best to wait till there aren’t any. 
Shortly after signing a bill making it easier for the mentally ill to buy guns (the problem isn’t guns, said Paul Ryan, it’s mental illness), readying to sign one allowing wider use of silencers, Trump tweeted “warmest condolences” and “God bless you” to the victims. It was, he said, “In many ways a miracle,” because cops got to the murderer after only fifty-nine dead and five hundred wounded. (Had he used a silencer, would they have?) 
After speech writers composed a less prosaic response, our pretend-religious president teleprompted prayers for peace, healing, and banishing evil. Momentarily suspending his peddling of hatred and fear, he also suggested praying for an end to hatred and fear. Which left no time for addressing guns.  
If evil is to be banished, it’d have happened by now. If preemptive prayers don’t keep killers from filling hotel rooms with automatic weapons, perfectly legal in Nevada, after-action ones will likely go unanswered, too. Still, since it wasn’t the time to mention America’s tolerance for gun violence as the price we willingly pay to have protected ourselves from Obama’s terrorist army and from the next time a Democrat becomes president, there wasn’t much else to talk about. So prayers it is. Just not the other thing.  
Like how, after Australia outlawed assault-type weapons and tightened gun laws following a massacre, murder rates dropped by over half and mass murder disappeared; citizens relinquished hundreds of thousands of guns and they’ve yet to be enslaved. But legislating is hard. During the shooting, Congress had its hands full ending healthcare funding for nine million children.  
Chiding reporters who brought up gun laws, Press Secretary Sanders brought up Chicago’s gun laws. Following NRA guidelines, she didn’t mention their giant geographic loophole. Would gun laws have prevented Las Vegas? Maybe not. Like climate change, no single event is due to it, they say. But it’s getting worse. On day 274 of 2017, this was mass shooting 272. 
But, no, not the time. Then let’s talk about lying, which Trump does more often than the heavily-armed shoot at us.  
We had the votes, he said after his latest Obamacare failure, but a Senator was hospitalized. This he repeated, semi-automatic, even after the Senator noted he wasn’t in the hospital and, had it been crucial, he’d have returned to vote. Trump’s hospital excuse was fabrication; his insistence they had the votes was dishonesty, squared. 
Why does he lie so bizarrely? Why don’t his apologists care? That’s just Trump being Trump, they say. Recently I conversed with someone who said since all politicians lie, he’s glad Trump does it better. He wasn’t kidding. But good lying is hard to disprove. Trump lies about crime statistics, American business taxes, estate taxes, clean coal. He lies about what he said yesterday. He stands in cloudless sunshine waving the weather report, insisting it’s raining. His tax plan won’t help him or fellow top one-percenters at all, he declares. Every credible analysis says otherwise, but who ya gonna believe: Trump, or your lying arithmetic? His believers say, well, heck. Emails. 
The number and weight of Trump’s lies threaten democracy, annihilate trust. They portend a new and dangerous American exceptionalism. How frightening to have as president a demonstrable, recidivist, outlandish liar; having the nuclear codes, currently in a schoolyard name-calling brawl with another unstable person. Trumpists don’t care. Incredibly, when he claims his tax plan will hurt him personally while balancing the budget, they believe him. When he tells us North Korea, or Iran, or Democrats did something horrible, something war-worthy, there’s no precedent of any sort for assuming he’s being truthful. The danger is obvious.  
Then, for four hours, he visited Puerto Rico, whose citizens he’d called lazy moochers, lamented the expense of helping them, said not enough people died to make it a real catastrophe and other equally stupefying things, importuned praise while praising himself, overstated the relief effort, and tossed paper towel rolls at people like a t-shirt gun at a basketball game. 
It's obvious. Oh, say: can you see?
[Image source]

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Patriots?



Interesting, isn't it, that the people who are so offended by anything they see as disrespecting our flag are the same ones claiming government is "the problem." Who agree with Trump that a free and adversarial press is "the enemy of the people." Who work to devalue education, who are fine with suppressing the votes of people who might disagree with them.

What, I wonder, do they think the flag stands for, if not those things?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Redefining "Balance"



Deficits, it turns out, matter only when Democrats are in charge. Screaming about increasing debt, as was heard under Obama (despite, as has always been the case with Ds vs Rs, the deficit dropping after rising under Bush), will be a thing of the recent past. From the Tax Policy Center:
This paper analyzes presidential candidate Donald Trump’s revised tax proposal, which would significantly reduce marginal tax rates, increase standard deduction amounts, repeal personal exemptions, cap itemized deductions, and allow businesses to elect to expense new investment and not deduct interest expense. His proposal would cut taxes at all income levels, although the largest benefits, in dollar and percentage terms, would go to the highest-income households. Federal revenues would fall by $6.2 trillion over the first decade before accounting for added interest costs. Including interest costs, the federal debt would rise by $7.2 trillion over the first decade and by $20.9 trillion by 2036.
But... but... Donald and Paul promised us budgetary balance. It's almost as if they were knowingly lying. It's almost as if they assume their base LIKES being lied to.

Which, it's obvious, they do.

The entire analysis is found at the above link. In fairness, it does predict short-term growth in GDP, which falls after the first few years.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Patriot Act


My next newspaper column:
“Thinking NFL players are protesting the flag is like thinking Rosa Parks was protesting public transportation." 
That’s from Facebook, source of all wisdom. But it’s true. Same with saying they’re disrespecting veterans. Being one myself, I understand why some vets believe it; but they’re missing the point, wide right. Worse, they’re being used by a president with less standing to define patriotism than any president, ever. 
Our justifiable wars (which excludes Vietnam and all that followed except, maybe, Afghanistan until Bush abandoned it) were fought in the name of freedom. Founded by people resisting unjust governance, America began with protests. The action we’ve seen on NFL fields is as American as football, embodying a most fundamental Americanism: belief that wrongs can be righted by rallying support. Peacefully challenging inequality honors the flag, those who fought under it, and the promise of justice for all. For which it stands.  
Oh, but our country has been good to them, say the Foxolimjonesified. Yes. Which makes their activism more significant: it’s for those who haven’t voice or means, who live with inequity daily. Thus, the source of this cynically fomented outrage: the Republican party denies racial inequality exists. To get what those athletes are about, one must acknowledge imperfection, including racism and unequal justice. Denying them is deliberate blindness. Fixing them requires loving America enough to believe it can improve, and willingness to help it happen. 
NFL owners didn’t have to support their players. They did. Instead of men attending to equality, Trump could have called for firing people honoring Nazi flags, hailing inequality. He didn’t. 
I served in Vietnam because I was drafted. Unlike Donald Trump, who undoubtedly used family wealth and influence to get five phony deferments for “bone spurs” which mysteriously didn’t prevent him from playing varsity sports, I hadn’t tried to get out of it. Unlike Trump, I figured if I did, someone worth no less than me would be going in my place. 
While I was dodging rockets in Danang (successfully but for one), my wife was working for anti-war candidates and participating in war protests. As I was there involuntarily, her bravery and patriotism were greater than mine. Risking reprisal from Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover, believing America could be better, she exercised rights I was told I was fighting for. Candidate Trump literally wrapped himself around a flag in a laughably phony tableau of patriotism. Unlike him, my wife and millions then, and star athletes and millions now, know patriotism is more real, difficult, and committed than that.  
Dining with a thrombus of right-wing leaders recently, Trump bragged that his “NFL thing” was “really taking off,” that he was “winning” on it. Winning what? A war of propaganda and deception? Distraction from the latest failure of a pre-failed campaign promise, repeal and replacement of The Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act; or the just-revealed White House private email accounts? Or, despite his bragging about it, a disorganized, ineffective relief effort in Puerto Rico? Or possibly his imaginary secret plan to defeat ISIS in thirty days. (Maybe he meant thirty days from tomorrow.) “Winning,” he called his NFL demagoguery. Such are the priorities of a losing narcissist. 
Except as a word to manipulate supporters, Donald Trump knows nothing of patriotism. Calling white supremacists “very fine people” but men protesting inequality “sons of bitches” is the opposite of patriotism. Hoping to wrench health coverage from millions of Americans, including low-income veterans, isn’t patriotism, nor is promoting a tax plan that experts say will add two trillion in debt while enriching his fellow plutocrats at the expense of Americans struggling to succeed. Patriotism isn’t running scam businesses and hiding tax returns. Neither is a “I know you are but what am I” contest with the world’s second most immature leader. And it absolutely isn’t receiving election assistance from a foreign enemy (who’s now helpfully pushing NFL outrage online). 
His list of transgressions makes Donald Trump particularly unqualified to define patriotism for us. With phony outrage, the man who got rich avoiding taxes and bilking Americans wants us to ignore the inequality those NFL players are identifying. In claiming they disrespect our flag, Trump stands truth on its head, which, it’s clear, is right where his remaining supporters prefer it to be. 
[Image source]

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Health Care. And Now, Tax Reform.



Who knew "America First" and "Make America Great Again" meant ending taxation on money American corporations earn overseas? I guess I just don't understand job creation.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Perfect Version of "Graham-Cassidy"



Because I'm not the sort to put party above the good of our country, I have a "repeal and replace" health-care plan that will help Republicans, who control our government, fulfill their promise to the American people. It's based on their efforts (which some consider a bit shameless and cynical and desperate) to win over reluctant Republican senators by exempting their states from the worst parts of "Graham-Cassidy." (Or is it "Cassidy-Graham?" Or both, since there are two versions now.)

And here it is: write your bill and exempt all fifty states. Simple. Done deal. You're welcome.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Trump's Katrina? No. Far Worse.



Note to Donald Trump: Puerto Rico is part of the United States. Its citizens are American citizens, and they're in extremis. Instead of acting like a child over athletes standing up to you, how 'bout marshaling all the powers of the government, including the military, to get food and water there? How 'bout sending generators and fuel by the boatload?

You idiot. You self-absorbed third grader. Would it help if we sent skin-lightening cream first?

[Image source]

Friday, September 22, 2017

Kung Fu Surgeon


Tomorrow's newspaper column, today. A happy break from Trump and Trumpisim, by way of my Surgeonsblog.
Somewhere in my home is a letter I received from a Shaolin priest, at the time one of five (so I was told) highest grand masters of the martial art of kung fu on the planet. The letter is embossed with the gold seal of the temple of which he was the head (if that’s the word). With its beautiful calligraphy and that timeless seal, I should have had it framed. Sadly, at the moment it’s missing in inaction. 
The master came to me from another country, that I -- and only I -- might operate upon him. (To put it a little more dramatically than circumstances might warrant.) According to the man who sent him to me, he taught very few select pupils, and demonstrated his skills only in private. The referring person, a student of kung fu (but not of the master), had had the opportunity to witness the man's ability to toss a group of attackers like Pike Place fish, and other unearthly wonders. The priest was in his sixties, as I recall. 
I'm not sure what I expected. A spectral aura? Levitation? A shimmering cone of calm? Surely, though, were I to give satisfactory care, I'd be granted some sort of special status, maybe presented with a holy relic, invited to the temple for a secret ceremony rooted in ages past. I let myself imagine wondrous things. Truths revealed. Powers conferred. 
He arrived in my office dressed like a Florida retiree. Age-appropriately fit, but appearing neither athletic nor powerful, he was of unimposing stature. Less surprised than embarrassed for my silliness, I put aside my fantasies and proceeded into my usual doctor/patient partnership, treated him like everyone else, operated in due course and saw to his recovery, after which he returned to his homeland. 
The letter, which lavishly compared my commitment and work to that of great artists, was accompanied by a package. The elegance (and flattery) of the letter was more than enough; but, once again, I unloosed my imagination, now at what might be in the box, which I opened with partially contained expectation. 
It was a Montblanc fountain pen. 
I'd not heard of them. Very expensive for a pen, I discovered, and quite beautiful. A nice gesture, no doubt, but of not much use to me. A little too showy, it was also impossible to use for writing orders at the hospital, because (before computerized records) I needed to push hard enough for several copies. Nor was I interested in lugging a bottle of ink on rounds. I confess to being disappointed. It seemed so impractical, so materialistic, so... unlike a Shaolin priest. Not that I had any information other than a TV show. 
In its elegant box, the pen sat on my bedside table for a decade or more, alongside its exotic and suggestively erotic ink bottle. Then I wrote a book, found an actual publisher, gave some readings, did book signings. And it occurred to me: it was karma, or whatever kung fu masters believe in. He foresaw this moment, it was perfect, meaning and purpose of the gift revealed. 
I took it to my first reading. With its elegant, filigreed gold nib, its meaty heft, its unmistakable emblem, the silky lines of ink it imparted to the page, it’d be perfect for a signature and a few well-chosen words. Testimony to a writer of distinction. On stage, I read choice bits and answered questions. Humbly, I say my readings were mutual fun. I'm enough of a ham to enjoy it and get plenty of laughs. That first one was at “Wordstock,” a book fair of some renown in Portland. My presentation, in a small side room, was at the same time as Gore Vidal's, in an appropriately huge one. “This is my first reading of my first book," I told the audience, "So I'm looking forward to hearing what I have to say." 
When I finished, by then an old pro, sitting at a table stacked with books ready to be signed and inscribed for purchasers, I took up that auriferous pen as if having it were normal as breathing. 
It leaked all over my hands. The first book I signed was so smudged I had to throw it away.
[Image source]

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dreaming



It's become very clear that Robert Mueller is deadly serious and that his investigation will reveal multiple transgressions: not just Russia collusion and Russian hacking of the electoral process (more effectively than is currently believed by most), but Trump's own shady (and worse) business dealings, and those of his hench.

And it's clear, because it's already happening, that Trump, Trumpists, the right-wing media machine, and Congressional Rs will do everything they can to discredit Mueller and his findings.

What's not yet clear is the extent to which the latter truth will be effective. On the 35% hardcore, the answer is irrelevant: they'll believe Trump is Jesus-sent and Mueller is doing the work of the devil. The important question is how many Trump voters of the not totally blinded and deafened sort will think twice. And whether enough Congressional Rs will find the genitals to do something about it.

I cling to the belief that not all Republicans have gone entirely insane and that the word "conservative" still has meaning; so I'm inclined to think that if Mueller's findings are as damaging to Trump and his gang of deceivers as I'm pretty sure they will be, we'll be seeing the last of Trump, sooner than later.

A guy can dream.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Perchance To Dream


Tomorrow's newspaper column, today:
Steve Bannon and all of Breitbartdom were deliriously joyful, Jeff Sessions smirked his way through the announcement, their uncontained happiness telling. Ending DACA is, after all, about nothing so much as nativist white supremacy. Appealing directly to the worst among us, Trump’s initial decision was gratuitous cruelty.  
“Compassion,” said Sessions, the word inexplicably not burning through his nasal conchae and into his brain. And “law.” Well, the latter argument is not without weight: DACA was a controversial executive order by the Muslim Kenyan terrorist, a result of Congress even less able to legislate than it is now.    
Fake news notwithstanding, no court has ruled Obama’s order unconstitutional. Now, though, with Neil Gorsuch having taken his seat thanks to unprecedented obstruction by Mitch McConnell, the Supreme Court is stacked against it. Congressional inaction or an appearance before the Court would mean the end of DACA. Too bad. It’s been humane and mutually beneficial; which, considering its origin, is unsurprising. Note that CEOs of major companies, and the Chamber of Commerce are among those calling for continuing the program. 
As usual, right-wing media are disgorging deliberate disinformation about DACA recipients: they’re on welfare, they get food stamps, free college. Because it’s lies that created and animate Trumpism, truth won’t matter. But this is about children, innocently but unlawfully brought here years ago, who’ve honorably made our country a home. These are eight-hundred-thousand honest young adults, contributing no less to society than wave after wave of immigrants have throughout our history.  
On arrival, their average age was six. They’ve been here, typically, twenty years, during which time they’ve become American in all but citizenship. To qualify for DACA, they’ve passed and maintained legal scrutiny; they’re paying five-hundred dollars every two years to continue their inclusion; none have committed crimes; nearly all are employed, paying taxes. They include nurses, teachers, med students, engineers, tech specialists, soldiers. Debunked repeatedly is the claim that Dreamers take jobs from American citizens. There is, in other words, no downside to DACA. Having arrived as children, they’ve come to personify the American dream, as opposed to the deplorables to whose ugly demands Trump is acceding.  
Had Republicans in Congress shown legislative ability on much of anything, especially issues that require empathy, intelligence and forward thinking, Trump’s no-look pass to them could be seen as something other than cynical politics. “Above all else, we must remember that young Americans have dreams too,” stated Trump, vaporizing prior phony justifications, and implying benevolence is a zero-sum proposition. 
It’s only those aggrieved (in their own minds) nativists and supremacists who like the idea of punishing descendants for the crimes of their parents, but those are the people on whom Trump has rested his presidency. Muslim bans, Charlottesville, LGBT people, Sheriff Arpaio, and (maybe, maybe not) DACA: there’s no mistaking, to date, at whose approval his policies have been aimed. A third of Trump voters, according to polls, would deport Dreamers.  
And yet, as he reads the writing on the wall, senses he might be making an early exit through the presidential grift-shop, maybe Trump is listening to the better angels in Congress and the voices of the vast majority of Americans who disapprove of and disagree with him. Even if it’s because he fears an end to the cash cow his presidency has become for his businesses and family, has he reneged, yet again, on a major promise? As happened with the debt ceiling, Democratic leaders may have convinced him to reconsider this senseless deportation. 
But wait: after showing what looked like an uncharacteristic sense of decency, Trump is now demanding a cost-free act of humanity be tied to his expensive, pandering, and unnecessary border wall. So who knows? Does he care about Dreamers as fellow humans, or is their future only a bargaining chip? With Trump, whose only constant is self-enrichment, no one, not even supporters, can count on anything. 
Nativist Trumpites are already up in arms at his possible about-face. As we welcome their overdue recognition that Trump hasn’t the ability to produce coherent policy or keep his facts straight from one moment to the next, let them explain how Obama’s order has hurt them.  
Meanwhile: if this column is even more discohesive than usual, hey, the man has ping-ponged three times since I began it! 
[Image source]

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sinking To Their Level



I gotta say there's a bunch of really annoying lefty websites lately, ones posting articles with click-worthy headlines, pitching stories we all wish were true but which, when read, are empty, the titles having been dramatically misleading, the "story" nothing more than hearsay. It's starting to piss me off.

"Trump furious over something or other." "The final days of Trump's presidency or something." "White House in disarray after Mueller somethings a something."

I'd like to believe it all, but I don't need to be hooked into something that's unsourced hearsay bullshit. I'd like to believe liberals are a little smarter than that, and that they'd reject trumpic-level fakery. But it's not so: Facebook, for example, is full of links to those articles, posted, re-posted, garnering all sorts of "like"s. I'll assume the likers didn't bother to read the articles. Otherwise, they're at Foxolimjonesian levels of wishful thinking.

Are they deliberately false, just to raise hopes only to dash them? Are they cynical click-bait for ad revenue? Whatever the answers, "we" ought to be better than these useless places.

Here's a list of some of the worst bullshit liberal sites:

"Bluedotdaily dot com" "Progresstribune dot com" "Bipartisanreport dot com" And this bunch of bogosity: Occupy Democrats, PoliticsUSA, Blue Nation Review, Addicting Info, Liberalspeak. I guess it's not impossible any of them might on occasion post something useful, but they require reading with a high level of salinity and a low level of expectation.

Happily, there are plenty of reputable and intelligent liberal sites which do excellent original reporting of their own. A couple of the best are talkingpointsmemo.com and washingtonmonthly.com. Plus truthout.org, crooksandliars.com (which, if sometimes a little shady, has been known to link to my blog on occasion), thinkprogress.org, and, of course, Mother Jones.

And there's the best of the opinionators, Charles P. Pierce. That he happens also to be funny as hell is frosting on the apple.

No fan of bothsiderism, I have no problem with well-argued liberal-leaning sites: they're where reality is to be found. Which is why those superficial, shallow, low-standard, b.s. "liberal" places are so depressing. Actual, documentable, well-sourced truth is good enough, and all we need.

[Image source]

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