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.


At 100 Days, Why are You President?

Obviously because you were elected, but that’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking: what is it that you’re there to do?

On healthcare, it’s to let the House Republicans craft a bill you’ve shown no real input on, which you were ready to see passed half-baked and to the end of making the situation much worse. That doesn’t seem like a good reason to be in Washington.

On tax reform, it’s to give yourself a nice big cut, something you would have gotten with any Republican, regardless of the deficits it would bring. What is particular to you that this tax change will bring? Nothing, so far.

On immigration and trade, you seem prepared to go the extra mile to be cantankerous, but there are no benefits. The same on environmental policy, and it’s looking that way on foreign policy as well. If being a jerk is your signature achievement, history shall not look kindly upon you.

Personal enrichment? You have enough money that any further embellishment of your wealth is simply a compulsion disorder at this point. And any gain to you as president is staining the nation. Why bother?

You were going to crack down on the drug companies, and then you blinked.

I can’t figure out why Donald Trump is president.

There’s nothing he’s done that any severe Republican wouldn’t have done. He’s not putting his touch on anything or making any deals happen. It just seems like a waste of time. He was elected to shake things up, when all he’s done is tumped a few things over and nothing more.

Upon the announcement of his one-page of bullet points tax plans, they didn’t even bother to put the document up on the White House website. On healthcare, he still has not given a major speech to explain the policy. And so on.

I don’t get it. Why be president if you don’t have the courage to stand up for first-class healthcare for all Americans (“America First”)? If your tax plan is just to promise everybody pays very little and supply-side will MAGA?

Such a sad waste. Such a poor showing. We’re not seeing leadership. We’re seeing what the US will look like running on autopilot with a side of petulant outbursts for the next four years. What a sad, sad mess.

Looking on the bright side, less than 80 weeks until the midterms.


Would You Rather? Politics

Brexit, the Turkish Referendum, and even to some extent Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton.

During the 2016 Republican Primary, Lindsey Graham said choosing between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz was like asking would you rather be shot or poisoned.

“Would you rather…” a party game that, in its darker incarnation, poses two abhorrent options and participants must choose.

It seems that modern democracy has become a variant of this game. Instead of the pair of equally horrible, though, it is either a choice between one extreme and another, or at best, between the status quo and the extreme.

On Brexit, the choice was stark. All-or-nothing. Either leave entirely, or stay. No possibility of offering a chance to renegotiate the points of pain for the lean-leaves. Same with Turkey. Either Erdogan got his shiny new toys of doom, or he didn’t. They weren’t given to the people to say, “Well he can have this one, but not that one.” It wasn’t a gradient vote.

Would you rather… have a democracy that gives more moderate options, or watch the whole world spiral down the drain, one extreme choice after another?

This one-way mess is getting us into trouble. It’s turned our self-governance into a game of WYR? rather than a mechanism for compromise. I would much prefer the pendulum became a plumb bob, pointing at the earth we all must share. We badly need to stop giving into every fear.

And, of late, it’s all conservative extremism on parade. In Russia, in Turkey, you have conservatives seeking to pimp out their states, to make them prostitutes for personal enrichment. In Britain, no longer great since it turned its back on shared-responsibility in Europe, you have May hoping that the people are dumb enough to increase her majority at a time when the conservatives have already blundered their future in a fit. In France… we shall see.

But at some point this all has to swing back to the other extreme. Not equally bad, but still not measured and incapable of producing the sorts of long-term planning we need.