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Fiddling While the Country Burns

CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times—President Trump’s three favorite “lying mainstream media” targets—are spending an inordinate amount of air space and ink on Trump’s lies, his affairs, his attempts to cover up his affairs, his attempts to obstruct the Mueller investigation on Russian meddling in the election and possible Trump campaign collusion. As a president, Donald Trump is a poster boy for a thin-skinned, poorly informed, demagogue who has no regard for the truth but an uncanny ability to touch the sensitive points of his base with his inflammatory rhetoric, and he comes across to most informed and reasonable Americans as an insult to the office of the presidency. That said, these qualities, which bring out the anger and disdain of the intellectual elite and much of the media, are not the biggest danger posed by his presidency. After all, Kennedy and Clinton were probably just as sleazy and dishonest with regard to extra-marital affairs, and Johnson and Nixon, particularly the latter, were just as thin-skinned and prone to retribution against their enemies. Probably no one was as ill informed about world affairs and foreign policy, but in these arenas, Trump appears to be stumbling into some successes.

What sets Donald Trump apart from previous presidents and from the liberal democratic agenda set by his immediate predecessors is the policies he favors, and, by appointing ideologues into positions of power in his cabinet or as heads of federal agencies, he is changing the direction the United States is moving in ways that are truly harmful to our long term well-being. 

Under Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency has either rolled back or failed to enforce virtually all of the Obama-era protections of our environment and efforts to forestall climate change. Under the disgraced Tom Price, the Department of Health and Human Services cut the Obamacare enrollment period in half and slashed advertising and outreach for the program. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Ben Carson, has proposed raising the portion low-income renters pay for HUD housing and adding work requirements for eligibility. Under the direction of Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, the DOJ civil rights division has issued instructions to seek settlements without consent decrees—which would result in no continuing court oversight of civil rights violations by local jurisdictions. Under Trump’s appointee, Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Department of Education no longer requires civil rights investigators to obtain three years of complaint data from schools or school districts to assess compliance with civil rights law.

These changes are just the tip of the iceberg. Donald Trump, as president, has severed our involvement in the Paris Climate Accords, is threatening to pull out of the Iran Nuclear Treaty, and has affirmed his support of a return to coal and oil as our primary fuels, despite overwhelming evidence of their role in causing global warming. On top of that, he has strongly supported arming as many Americans as possible and resisted any efforts at gun control (something in which he is joined by our congressional politicians on both sides of the aisle). His tax plan is based on the notion that tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy will result in a cash-powered economy that will raise wages for everyone. His plan for immigration is based on closing the borders to those who aren’t financially able to contribute to America, to relatives of immigrants who are already here, and generally to those from regions he calls “shithole countries,” which are mostly poor and non-white. His proposals favor Christians over other religions as new immigrants.

To give him his due, Trump is against foreign military involvement, and has resisted getting bogged down in the Syrian conflict (although what exactly is the American policy with regard to Syria is unclear). Despite or perhaps even because of his bombastic rhetoric with regard to North Korea’s nuclear threat, we are seeing a historic thaw in North and South Korea relations and some chance at seeing denuclearization of North Korea. Despite the threat that Trump’s trade war rhetoric poses to our economy, so far, the progress in wage increase and unemployment decrease that began under Obama has continued unabated during the Trump presidency bringing us to near record progress in the economic area.

But generally, Donald Trump’s agenda is one that is both anathema to liberals and progressives and, in most cases, runs counter to the majority American public sentiment. Polls show that most Americans favor Obamacare, want gun control of some sort, don’t want a border wall and are open to a path to citizenship for non-criminal undocumented immigrants, especially those in the DACA program.  Similarly, the vast majority of Americans believe in climate change and favor clean air policies that are being reversed by the Trump administration. So why are Trump’s opponents spending all their time on Stormy Daniels and Russian collusion? Where are the proposals to restore and even advance the programs that Trump is cutting and to align our national policies with those favored by most Americans?

There are proposals out there, but we hear little of them. Probably because it gains such wide and rabid support, our media ignores real issues for sensational ones. Even everyday Americans would rather argue with each other than attempt to find proposals they could all agree on. Our politicians are non-functional in the most part. And the loyal opposition—the Democrats— are fiddling with backstabbing accusations and innuendo while the country burns.

Reader Comments (5)

"And the loyal opposition—the Democrats— are fiddling with backstabbing accusations and innuendo while the country burns."
Systems always produce the results they were deigned to create. When we recognizee this system is designed to create affluence for an increasingly smaller handful of people then it actually all makes sense...it is working perfectly.

Trump is not an aberration.

Wow, Casey...just think of the fortunes that will be made in climate disaster and abatement....mind boggling. Speaking as a person that is very knowledgeable about capitalism, please believe me that I am not being facetious.

May 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDariel Garner

So very true and so sad. "There are proposals out there, but we hear little of them. Probably because it gains such wide and rabid support, our media ignores real issues for sensational ones. Even everyday Americans would rather argue with each other than attempt to find proposals they could all agree on. Our politicians are non-functional in the most part. And the loyal opposition—the Democrats— are fiddling with backstabbing accusations and innuendo while the country burns."

May 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterIlana

I think most Americans who support President Trump are well-informed and reasonable. In general, most people are capable of discerning what is in their best interest and they then vote for the political leaders who appear likely to fulfill their expectations.

There is no crime in having an affair. It's pathetic but also made worse when one party extorts money from the other to keep the illicit affair quiet.

Mueller's special investigation isn't being obstructed, it's being rightfully criticized as a sham meant to serve as a substitute for a constitutional impeachment process. To this point, there has not been one shred of evidence presented that President Trump or his allies "colluded" with Russia.

President Trump has finally set us on a course where we're moving with strength and resolve as we interact with foreign powers. That's no accident. President Trump is very intentional with setting the right tone on the international stage.

We unfortunately had eight previous years of simpering, weak-kneed, sycophantic posturing and groveling at the feet of world leaders that caused the US to appear as if we were beholden to suspect governments and lesser cultural ideologies.

It's a very good thing to diminish bureaucracy and also to encourage people to be as independent as possible even if they have some form of disability.

if you want to ban guns because they kill people then you should also want to ban machetes, rental trucks, tall buildings, airplanes, hammers, acid, fire, explosive agents and just about every chemical that can be humanly ingested including alcohol, cigarettes, narcotics and aspartame. The point is that inanimate objects typically are not very good at killing people. There usually needs to be some motive force behind any item or power that kills and it's usually a malevolent or heedless human attitude. Taking away guns will just mean that people will become more creative and vicious in their methods of killing.

The country is not burning. It's rising, being rebuilt from the heaps of charred molten synthetica that once burned brightly beneath the cloven hooves of globalist demagogues and their panting, progressive minions wagging bifurcated tails dipped in the rancid serum of social justice.

May 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMark Wheeler

It is difficult for me to respond since we had two presidents that preceded the Abomination who did not engage in vindictive behavior and/or sleaze. As much as I despised Dubya, he was not dishonorable personally. And Obama was a model of probity. So, we have to dig backward to find examples, and those piecemeal, of all the vileness of the Abomination. Yes, Kennedy did this, yes, Johnson did that, but they didn't do all of it TOGETHER AND AT THE SAME TIME. In addition, we argue about the Mueller probe as if the person sitting in the White House is not utterly directed by his financial entanglements with Russia. Trump kept us out of Syria? His puppeteer, Putin, pulled the strings of that decision. The thaw between the Koreas may have been sped by even a nutjob like Un realizing that he's dealing with someone totally out of control and without a discernible policy at the helm of the U.S. We have got kakistocrats in Congress and, I fear, now as a majority on the Supreme Court. And if your right-wing interlocutor, Casey, thinks that the country is being raised up he doesn't need deregulations to deprive him of oxygen--he's already in the zone of those who've left their senses and their priorities as human beings behind long ago in favor of their pocket books.

May 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAnca Vlasopolos

The DOJ just settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit stemming from President Obama's weaponization of the IRS directed at his political enemies. Many more of the Obama era crimes will be prosecuted and settled soon. It's entire possible that democracy could lead to a kakistocracy, but if that ever did occur, it would be at the behest of the people. If it was me you're labeling as a "right-wing interlocutor," I'm not right-wing at all. I'm much more akin to a classic liberal from c.1970. It's unfortunate that today's progressives have nothing in common with those politically-elevated people. As far as my sensibility goes, I've never altered my brain chemistry for monetary gain.
In fact, I've never consumed alcohol, drugs, cigarettes or even coffee so as to maintain my brain chemistry. I stand on stable principles in all my political opinions.

May 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMark Wheeler

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