Confused But Not Amused

It’s late Friday afternoon, Congress has gone home for the weekend, I have a lot planned for tomorrow and at 1am EST Sunday my readers are going to expect a new posting that most likely covers the biggest American political story of the week just ended. What am I to do? I’ll write it now. If you’ll come along you’ll see my latest remarks on the Trump Shutdown 3.0 (and perhaps a few other tidbits too tempting to pass up).

Unless something truly astonishing happens in the interim we are now living in the longest government shutdown in American history. Government shutdowns are a relatively new phenomenon. Baby Boomers like me have lived through every one, the first occurred during the Carter administration. Nonetheless, this is one time that Trump can legitimately claim that he has done something no other American president has ever done. (Is that another reason to consider him the worst ever?)

Many federal workers have now gone without a scheduled paycheck and they have been the focus of much news coverage. However, the problem is much more widespread. I personally spent a good part of last week strategizing how the non-profit I chair the Board of will cover a serious cash flow dilemma caused by the federal funding of our major grants suddenly disappearing (while they were already 90 days in arrears.) Americans have and will die as a result of Trump’s temper tantrum (there is no more accurate way to describe it).

Tuesday Trump did an eight minute, prime time televised speech from the Oval Office. I’m not sure that I had ever before heard so many lies in such a short period of time in my life. I aped it in a Wednesday meeting. I said I wanted to make a case for why I should be in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. I said I’m seven foot tall, played at the University of Wisconsin, was twice selected all Big10 and All-American. During my time in Madison we won the conference my junior and senior years and in my senior year we also won the NCAA tournament. After college I spent ten years at center for the Boston Celtics, winning the NBA championship six of those years. While that resume is certainly worthy of consideration for induction into the Hall there is one problem; none of it is even remotely true.

I am far from alone in considering the President to be a liar. Many news publications printed lies to look out for before the speech. Fact checking a politician is an established (and under Trump thriving) art; but I cannot recall any President being preemptively fact checked.

Wednesday Trump met with Congressional leader. The group session boiled down to a negotiation session between Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Trump asked Pelosi if he reopened the government would the Democrats give him the $5.7 billion in wall money within a week. That was a stupid question from a very stupid president. Of course Pelosi responded in the negative at which point Trump exited the room like a spoiled brat taking his ball and leaving the basketball court. All Trump was offering was to correct his error in exchange for getting his way. This is the great deal maker?

Thursday Trump flew down to Texas for a photo-op at the border with a bearded Ted Cruz and equally clueless John Cornyn in tow. Trump had declared the Wednesday meeting a “total waste of time”. Considering his attitude and lack of business acumen it probably was. Thursday’s trip certain was! Not to mention the money it cost the American taxpayers.

Trump loves to talk about how he is such a great supporter of military veterans. Well Cadet Bone Spur’s little temper tantrum has caused about 250,000 veterans who currently work for the federal government to get pay tubs with the net amount of “$0.00” on Friday. Deservedly many federal government jobs have a veterans’ preference built into the hiring process so veterans were disproportionately affected by Trump’s third shutdown.

In perhaps the most interesting mystery in America, last week the Supreme Court ruled against the mystery foreign corporation that had refused to comply with Robert Mueller. I have a theory on that too but I have little more than gut to back it up with. In any event this is not good for Trump.

In another bit of news Trump’s shutdown is helping depress coverage of, it was announced that Michael Cohen would appear before Congress on February in a televised session. My bet is it won’t be his only congressional testimony session.

If you doubted me about smelling a rat when Patrick Shanahan was named Acting Secretary of Defense perhaps this bit of news will clarify your thinking: the Air Force announced it was accepting the first batch of KC-46A air tankers from Shanahan’s old employer Boeing. There are two flaws with the current version of the aircraft: It can’t see or control the arm that actually refuels the other aircraft. Don’t worry, Boeing promises to work on the problems.

The next time Trump brags about how under him America is respected think about this: Turkish President Erdogan refused to see National Security Advisor John Bolton during Bolton’s trip to Ankara last week. However, Erdogan did have his people pass along a scolding for Bolton. Somehow that doesn’t sound like respect to me.

Then of course we now have proof that Trump is delusional. He claimed that all past presidents agree with him on the wall. Currently there are four living ex-presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. One way or another all refuted the claim. In fairness, George H.W. Bush died recently and is therefore unavailable for comment. My conclusion is that most likely Trump is simply fibbing (as usual) or that he (ala Nixon) is talking to the portraits on the walls of the White House and thinks they are talking back.

In the greatest public proof of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 campaign to date it was accidentally revealed that Campaign Manager Paul Manafort shared private polling data with the Russians. That type of data would help make targeting in a disinformation campaign much more effective. You connect those dots.

When this all stops nobody knows. This much is certain; it will get worse before it gets better.

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