We’ll Always Have Paris

Err. Guess not.

President Bigly has announced the United States will withdraw from the landmark effort to keep earth habitable. This is a gift to Russia and China. Trump got no concessions. Pulling out is the worst possible deal.

The Paris climate agreement is symbolic from the US point of view. The economy will continue to transition away from carbon pollution, and while it may have done so quicker under Paris, the agreement was mostly about showing our commitment to cooperation on the world stage.

Thus, leaving Paris is all about showing we aren’t on the same page as the rest of the world, that we aren’t a dependable force for international action. And that’s a boon to regional actors that can use it to paint the United States as the decline that Trump himself represents.

At the rate Trump is making a mess, all the Democrats will need in 2020 is the slogan, “Make America as Good as 2016 Again.”

But, worse, as the reality of climate change continues, the Republicans will never divorce themselves from this strategic blunder of denying, stalling, and rescinding. They are cementing their place in history, under the rubric of fools at best and more likely under fiends.

Hedging risk is a natural move for politicians. The Republican Party is not hedging here. They are all-in on anti-earth and they do not seem to mind the future. That may be by design. For a party that yearns so strongly for the past, they may be seeking to become solely a member of it.


Don Bigly and the Budget of Doom

Mathematically incoherent. Cruel and unusual. Just plain dumb. All apt descriptors of the new budget proposal by the Trump Administration.

The budget proposes to cut all sorts of things for no good reason. If this were the product of a federal contractor, they would be ripe for a suit under the False Claims Act for defrauding the government by providing a work that missed the mark so widely it could only be intentional.

Without going into detail (I like to keep this blog to a strictly R rating), this budget may qualify as obscenity. It certainly appeals to the prurient interest of certain partisans, and it does depict an excretory function in a patently offensive way (i.e., through numbers). It is unclear whether it holds any value.

But the Republican legislators largely acknowledge it’s another bad deal by the king of bad deals. Even the White House gave that fact a nod. So why put this forward? Under the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 (31 USC) they have to submit a budget.

This is another pro forma, half-assed attempt by this president. Instead of coming up with something that tries to strike a balance, tries to set the legislature on the path to a real deal, to real progress, he just has his under-equipped staff of loyalists throw together whatever they want, and then he will say it’s the greatest thing ever.

Every presidency has missed opportunities, but for an unlikely presidency such as this, there seem to be no real attempts to hit anything. The budget doesn’t define any real goal. It doesn’t say that some programs are priorities. It says they’re all liabilities and we should just cut everything. Republicans like to talk about tough choices, but in practice that seems to be saying no to everything.

No to weather models and no to cancer research. No to SNAP, but also no to trade assistance. The tough choice this president offers is “no” or “no.”


How to Build a Blanket Fort

In these trying times, we all just want to feel safe and stable. There’s nothing better for that than a blanket fort.

First, tell all your staffers to stay out! Next, go to the East Wing and get some blankets and bring them back to the Oval Office.

Now, you have to decide whether to build on the land as-is, or if you want to prepare the site. Both have tradeoffs. Site preparation takes more time, but offers a more customized fort.

The true shape of the scandal gripping this administration is still not known. New wounds were revealed in the possibility of obstruction efforts by the president. We still have no direct evidence of collusion with the Russian Federation, but we still have no real explanation why Trump keeps going out of his way to show loyalty to them.

There are also the ongoing questions of emoluments to the president, his financial situation, and other vague feelings of corruption.

The tuck method gives you the option to use extra pillows to line your fort’s floor (this is essential if you are also pretending the floor is democrats). But it is less secure than using pillows to anchor the blankets.

Even if Trump is cleared, the government as a whole is still miles away from where we really want it to be. Bipartisan, compromising, working to ensure the rights and liberties and lives of the people? Please. And this presidency has shown no desire to bring us there.

We badly want a functional government that we can all be proud of, but this pall has stayed over us as we all huddle in our blanket forts, hoping that the storm will clear and we can go back outside and play.


There’s a Pattern Here

The president continues to push back against the American people finding out the truth. He doesn’t want them to know what’s in his tax returns, nor the extent of the Russian Federation’s involvement with either the election or his campaign and administration.

His EPA has archived major portions of its website. He hid the visitor logs. His press secretary hides in the bushes. Representative Nunes visited under the cloak of night. He wants to build a wall to keep Mexico from being able to see in.

He praises authoritarian strongmen that persecute the free press. He seeks to expand defamation laws. He calls journalists and newspapers failures and frauds.

This president has something to hide. What he is hiding is not clear, but nobody establishes such a trail of anxiety over their actions if they are America First Great Again Bigly.

He even fired FBI Director Comey because he was afraid of what a nonpartisan investigation might reveal, of what a man that would not bow to the crown might mean.

Ryan and McConnell have, thus far, shown fealty. Good little servants of the crown. How long that will last is anybody’s guess. It may depend on how fast the truth begins to chip away at this wall Trump has been building. Or it may depend on what they have to lose. Will McConnell announce his retirement? Is Ryan ready to lobby?

This Muralism is very concerning. The entire public record of Trump is one of ineptitude, so it’s plausible that all he’s hiding is how lousy he is at this. But the US Government is not meant to operate in such an environment. We are to have an open government that is accountable to the people.


Failing Healthcare Passed the House

The House Republicans passed a bad bill, on purpose. Now we wait through a recess to find out if the Senate has any more sense or integrity.

On purpose, because they want a legislative veto. Because the bill was required to originate in the lower chamber, by passing a bill that will never pass they ensure that it has to come back to them at least once if it is ever to be signed.

Senate Republicans should reject this power play by their colleagues. Playing against your own party is bad form. Passing a bill so reckless, the power to stop it out of the House’s hands unless and until the Senate kicks it back, is a complete abdication of responsibility and leadership by the House Republicans.

But now it goes to the Senate, where it will receive a formal scoring as to how bad it is, which the House Republicans did not wait for. They ought to be flagged and penalized for a false start. Five yards.

Senate Republicans will gut it and rewrite it, if they have any sense or integrity. But will the outcome be any better? More moderate? Anything approaching what Trump has claimed it should be?

All the while, President Trump has said the bill’s great, whatever it is. His promises on healthcare could not be more different than the bill just passed. Still, it’s great. Even as he lauds Australia’s much more progressive system, he says whatever he signs will be great.

Something tells me we can’t trust this Trump fella.

But we can’t trust the House Republicans, either. Their passage of such a horror cements that. That leaves the Senate Republicans to be the redeemers of their party’s good name.

The main way to do that is to ensure coverage parity (both in terms of who is covered and what is covered). That will require major changes to the bill, but it should always have been a requirement for reform. The House Republicans apparently had zero principles in their designs. The Senate should show them up, make them look like the JV team that they are.