January 2018 Archives

Dear America,

It's remarkable to me that U.S. senators think they can lie with impunity, not just to each other, but to the entire country...on television.  It's remarkable, but no surprise. When it comes to Republicans, lying is almost a cottage industry.  The most recent example of the Republican estrangement from the truth was Senators Cotton of Arkansas and Purdue of Georgia taking the affirmative step on Sunday morning television of denying President Trump's use of the adjective "shit-hole" when describing Nigeria and other African countries.  Just three days earlier, they had both simply said they didn't recall the remark ...what used to be called a "non-denial denial"...which might pass muster in our politics as giving loyal cover to a prominent party icon, in this case Donald Trump, whose choices in the past have put his party in a bad light.  But just three days later both senators went further and converted their non-denial denials to outright denials.   Put concisely, they both apparently value party loyalty over integrity, but that isn't the full extent of their sins.  Their denials by necessary implication constituted accusing Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of lying when he essentially confirmed Senator Durbin's report of the President's vulgarity and ostensible bigotry.   Graham has often propounded canards that served his party, accusing Democrats of partisan obstruction and the like when the reality was that his own party was to blame, but his conclusory condemnations of the opposition have been mere political rhetoric, and everyone could see that.  As to outright lies, it would be a tough case to make that the good Senator is telling one now; telling outright lies isn't his history.

Cotton is a Tea Party favorite and something of a Cruz type senator.  He likes to spout reactionary ideals as justification for what in most Americans' minds are callous and even despicable causes like eliminating food stamps, now known as the SNAP program that is included in the "Farm Bill" each year.  He seems to revel in being an arch conservative, perhaps even just this side of alt-right, and while he was smart enough to get through Harvard Law School, one has to wonder how smart he really is.  As to Republican Senator David Purdue of Georgia, he is a greedy former-business executive and a master hypocrite: a partisan who campaigned on the notion that the national debt was the greatest threat to the security of the United States, but then voted for the recent tax bill that is going to raise the national debt by $1.5 trillion.  Purdue oversaw the relocation of thousands of jobs overseas during his business career while collecting millions of dollars in compensation himself, saying he was proud of finding cheaper labor for the companies he ran or helped to run.  Both Cotton and Purdue are typical conservative republicans who live on casuistry and outright lies, Cotton being the more dangerous of the two.  Purdue seems to be just another conservative shill for the new plutocracy, but Cotton is a true believer.  He is an ardent socio-economic Darwinist it seems, and he doesn't care who suffers on account of the policies he advocates.  In addition, he seems to be one of those end-justifies-the-means Republicans who think that if it advances the Republican cause, reprehensible as it may be, it's a good idea.

They have an ally in this shit-hole thing in the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is swearing to the lies that Cotton and Purdue are telling.  It is notable that while other Republicans have joined the chorus of the hard of hearing who didn't hear Trump's remark, no one is coming forward to say that Trump didn't say it.  It's just Cotton and Purdue against the world, including the leaders of those shit-holes.  But regardless of the positions of others on the matter, this is why it is safe to say that Cotton and Purdue are liars

Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont held a hearing this morning in which he asked the director of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielson, about Trump's choice of words, and she said that she "didn't hear that word."  However, she did say that some "tough language" was used by Trump and others, which sounds a lot like a euphemism, though not a lie, and that's the difference.  My guess is that Cotton and Purdue will eventually get hung out to dry because their denial that the president said the word purports to be proof of a negative.  In light of the fact that they started out by saying only that they didn't hear the word, and in reality, that is all they can say, the fact that they didn't hear it doesn't mean that it wasn't said.  That's what I was getting at when I suggested that Cotton might not be the smartest bulb in the Senate chandelier.  One of the things you learn in law school is that you can't prove a negative...that a thing didn't happen.  All you can do is adduce the fact that no one has proof that it did.  Maybe that lack of fundamental insight is why Cotton didn't work as a lawyer for very long.  It seems that he just isn't up to it, but what's Purdue's excuse.

Your friend,

Mike


I started today as I do most days, by listening to the news on the radio.  It was largely the usual except for the lead story, which was President Trump calling Nigeria and other African countries "shit holes," from which we should allow less immigration in favor of countries like Norway.  Note the quotation marks.  As reported by some people who were at the meeting with six senators who wanted to share their plan for immigration reform, DACA in particular, that was the phrase he used and that was how he used it.  Apparently, he said something pejorative about Haiti too.  Of course, there was outrage from a few Republicans, and from a senator from out west whose roots include some Haitians, but it seems to have blown over just as quickly as it blew in. 

But as if that weren't enough to make me fear for our country,  there was an interview with a state official from Kansas who oversees the Medicaid program there.  The subject was whether Kansas would request permission to require work from Medicaid recipients, as our illustrious president ordered that states could just yesterday.  The official's response to the question, while rife with casuistry and bogus claims of all other kinds, was remarkable for his claim that work would give those people freedom.  The thought struck a cord in me, and I immediately knew why.  It's not just the absurdity that chaining a poor person to an odious, underpaid job equates to freedom in the mind of a public official with the power to affix that chain.  It's not just the rejection of the notion that no one should go without healthcare for want of money.  It's mainly that over the gates at Auschwitz and Dachau as well as at other concentration camps, Hitler had the phrase "Arbeit Macht Frei" emblazoned.  The translation is , "Work sets you Free."  To put it politely, I found that official endorsement of a slogan on which enslavement of "undesirables" in the name of ethnic purity to be a little chilling. 

We have a president who insults other nations wholesale...who apparently thinks that anyone on Medicaid should work at least some minimum wage job before getting healthcare, even if the job is deplorable, and thus severely underpaid.   At least one of our states officially agrees, and the fact that the idea that work makes you free never rang a bell with them seems ominous, at least to me, but in one sense, it's good that this is all coming about now.  We have an election in November, and it serves the greater good for voters to have the opportunity to think about these people who don't mind sounding like Nazis, and apparently thinking like them too, before they vote for them.  Those ideas aren't populism.  They're elitist tyranny.  What people have to realize is that it could be coming to their towns too.

As to President Trump, as if his resorting to ethnic slurs wasn't enough, the immigration deal in question was bipartisan.  Just a few days ago with many witnesses including the news media who broadcasted the event on the evening news, Trump vowed that he would support any deal that was put on his desk.  He said he would sign anything without reservation, even if it excluded something he wanted.  Yesterday however, he said he wouldn't sign the deal propounded by six senators, three senators from each party working together.  Yesterday, he apparently forgot that he had agreed to a sort of comity with his colleagues in our government from congress.  Yesterday, our president vowed to disavow a commitment he had made just days earlier...again.  So now, we not only have a president who wears his bigotry on his sleeve if not stamped on his forehead, we have a president who cannot be trusted to keep his promises, which the coal miners in West Virginia and the Carrier workers in Indiana already know from experience.   It's not surprising that Trump had such praise for both Carrier and himself when Carrier, which got $7 million in tax rebates and other considerations to keep the plant and the jobs here rather than in Mexico.  In that our president does business the same way that Carrier does, in that they are birds of a feather, why shouldn't they demonstrate their affiliation on the campaign trail.  It's good for all of us.  Before we vote, we should know who everybody is, despite any fulminations to the contrary.    I mean, Trump can't campaign on the fact that he's a liar, can he?   The "king of debt" is one thing, but the King of Liars?

Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,

Finally, Donald Trump has done some things with which I cannot take issue.  First, he stopped military aid to Pakistan, which is doing nothing to prevent both religious warfare against our forces in Afghanistan and its government.  It is not surprising that Pakistan's government, although secular under the country's constitution, leans toward supporting the Haqqani network based in the tribal region of Pakistan as the country was born of Islamic militancy in colonial India.  But regardless of Pakistan's official position as an American ally, the fact is that the Haqqani network and probably other Taliban supportive entities have functioned with impunity inside Pakistan's tribal region, and the government...the army in particular...has done little to interdict these activities.  It isn't about the money.  It's about the principle that as nations, the United States and Pakistan should be candid in identifying their political goals, philosophies and affiliations.  There is no point in funding an effort that is not forthcoming, and Pakistan's effort relative to the primary stated goal of the American alliance with Pakistan has been more lip-service than military activity.
  
Second, a law banning the export of domestic crude oil was passed in 1975, and it stood until December 2015 when congress passed and President Obama signed a bill that allowed the resumption of exportation, which oil producing states and oil producers themselves had been lobbying to effect for over forty years.  Democrats agreed in exchange for increased funding to support wind and solar energy enterprises and research.  But restrictions on oil leasing persisted until about a week ago when Trump authorized the leasing of about 90% of the rest of projected American off-shore reserves.  Environmentalists protest, but the fact is that while the United States is now approximately 90% energy independent, buried in the statistics that lump oil and gas, petroleum distillates like gasoline and other energy related exports together with imports is the fact that we import something between 40% and half of the petroleum we use every day.  With that is the fact that gasoline and other distillate prices like heating oil have been climbing for the past year or two after hitting low prices they hadn't seen for years.  In fact, those low prices had put a damper on domestic exploration and production, which in turn reduced supply relative to consumption and resulted in climbing prices at the pump.  So, if we can export oil, more will be produced, and as a consequence, prices here should decline, which is good for all those who drive to work...most of us.

As I write to you today, I am somewhat discomfited by the possibility that my indignant rejection of what Trump stands for is in jeopardy...that I can be co-opted by just a few prudent moves.  N-a-a-a-h.  He's still a moronic lunatic, but as my brother-in-law says, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in awhile.  

Your friend,

Mike

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2018 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2017 is the previous archive.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2018 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2017 is the previous archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.