Dear America,

I have to apologize for my irrational and apparently premature exuberance over our president's ostensible bipartisanship.  It appears that there is no deal regarding DACA after all as the White House press secretary now says.  The President may have appeared to the Democratic leadership to have made commitments, but he now denies that he agreed to anything nor did he make any promises, which we all should have anticipated;  just as with his campaign promises, Trump's word is not a bond that anyone can count on.  In fact, the absence of trustworthiness is a function of another flaw in our president: he isn't very bright and thus, he makes decisions without thinking.  Then, when he realizes that his decision is contrary to a prior pronouncement he has made, he just denies saying one thing or the other based on the bizarre assumption that no one will remember the next time he says, "believe me," which he says all the time.  And now, the Republicans are taking another run at the ACA, which presumably Donald Trump will welcome if his party can get out of its own way...definitely not a bipartisan effort, especially in light of his expression of willingness to work with Democrats to amend the ACA.  Will he honor his commitment to work with the Democrats and thus redeem his promise to do so or will he support the senate bill to repeal?  We'll know next week after the Congressional Budget Office scores Republican senator Lindsey Graham's bill to turn Medicaid into a block grant program run by the states and abrogate the ACA's protections lock, stock and barrel, relegating health care benefits to the unreliable legislative process of each state.  What was I thinking when I leapt to the conclusion that Donald Trump might restore functionality to our Congress and bring party comity back into vogue after sixteen years of legislative dysfunction with which the system has been imbued by the Republicans.

To add to all that, Trump is back to name calling, only this time with a foreign megalomaniac who now has nuclear weapons and missiles.  It is one thing for a politician to embarrass himself with sophomoric, polemical tactics like assigning insulting nicknames like "crooked," "lyin'" and "little" to his opposition.  Enough of our people are impressed by bullying tactics to elect such a man to high office, but the absurdity of it all stays here like a Las Vegas peccadillo.  But when he uses the same juvenile tactics on the international scene, labeling a dictator "rocket man" as if he is going to be cowed by a jejune insult the way that domestic politicians seem to have been, he just embarrasses not only himself but his nation, not to mention bringing the world closer to the brink of catastrophe.  The irony is that Kim jong-Un probably takes his new sobriquet as a compliment and will be bragging about it to all those North Koreans who already refer to him as their "Dear Leader." 

These events are all just more Trumpian contretemps...demonstrations of his incompetence, lack of integrity and underestimation of everyone else fueled by his insatiable, id-driven  narcissism, and they are to be expected when you elect an ego with feet to lead your country.  The only real question with regard to Donald Trump is how much damage is he ultimately going to do, and can we recover once he is gone.  Now, even the Republicans have grounds to call for Trump to be impeached.  He is a hazard to all of us regardless of party affiliation, but when was the last time that the Republicans did the right thing.

So the next time that Donald Trump appears to wax rational and self-less remember the last two weeks, not just hurricanes Irma and Maria, but hurricane Donald as well.  He's in office now, so there's not much we can do to interdict his misfeasance.  But we can root for the Mueller investigation, which I will continue to do now that I have apologized for my folly.  

Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,

A couple of weeks ago, I heard an interview with a Republican congressman from California on the subject of DACA.  He supported the idea of allowing "Dreamers," that is, undocumented immigrants who were children below a certain age when their parents brought them to this country illegally, being allowed to stay while they pursued their educations, worked or joined the military, but he decried the manner in which DACA had been created.  When he had finished justifying his position with the claim that Congress should be allowed to act, the interviewer pointed out that the reason for Barrack Obama's executive order was that Congress hadn't acted.  The congressman went on to claim that not to be exactly true, but it was.  Obama issued the executive order only after The Senate passed an immigration reform bill that was bipartisan and The House voted it down.  The interviewer failed to make him acknowledge that such was the case so his false assertion went unchallenged, but it is imperative that such casuistry be challenged whenever a politician employs it, which for the bulk of my political memory tends to be every time a Republican gets caught doing something he or she knows he or she shouldn't.  But that failure to call Republicans out may be at an end.

With his agreement with the Democrat leadership in Congress regarding the debt ceiling and the budget, the Republicans were put on notice that being in the majority will no longer protect them from their failures to act, and thus, eristic explanations and contrived excuses will be of no use anymore.  It's ironic if you think about it since Donald Trump is probably the most casuistic politician to attain high office since states' rights were used to justify the Civil War, but with regard to the Republicans in power, we have to take the allies we can get.  The next issue up for consideration seems to be tax reform, and if Democrats and moderate Republicans can agree on keeping the top 1% from milking the economy with bogus deductions and exceptions any more, anything is possible.  Changing our tax rates so as to reflect common deductions without having to fill out all kinds of forms to get them would be quite an accomplishment so long as we don't have to suffer taxation of our employer-provided health insurance like income and capital gains get taxed more like earnings.  That may be a tough sell to a president whose wealth is not just one, but two generations old, thus allowing him to "earn" his living by having money rather than working, but if it's the only thing he can get in order to keep one of his primary campaign promises, he just might go for it.  The pressure on him to do so may be the best hope this nation has had in a long time for rectifying the disparity of earnings and wealth that have turned us into a caste society.

What a paradox.  Perhaps the most reviled nouveau riche blatherskite to ascend to the presidency of any nation in the history of democracy looks more and more like the salvation of our democratic nation, which was born in the name of equality but has descended into a social stratification based on unearned, financially expropriated and purloined wealth.  Even a step or two in the right direction will be a boon to the vast majority of us, and then we can move on to a single payer health care system...all because Donald Trump may actually stand for something after all.  It seems that he does want things to change by act of Congress, and it is possible that he might even forego personal advantage as a criterion for signing such transformative bills.  Imagine: calling Donald Trump a "populist" may not have been ironical after all.  The Democrats introduce several bills designating goods manufactured by American companies subject to tariffs just like imports during the Obama administration, but the Republican house and senate wouldn't even vote on them.  Maybe just such a measure could pass; after all, it would bring jobs back to this country by making use of foreign labor less profitable making another of Trump's promises more likely to come true.  And maybe controlling drug prices could follow; Donald Trump has already expressed interest in the price gouging that pharmaceutical companies indulge in.  And of course, there is immigration reform, which seems to have set the whole thing in motion.

It could be that we are headed into the next great era in American history, characterized by a true impetus toward life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all of us, not just the fortunate few.  Too much?  You're probably right, but a man can dream, can't he.

Your friend,

Mike

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