After the Mid-Terms, Then What?

    Getting some miles away from the United States and filtering reality through the news, an emerging political scenario where the Republicans hold the Senate, the Democrats take over the House, and Trump owns the Supreme Court lock-stock-and-barrel seems to have almost acquired the stamp of certainty. Let’s say all of this comes to pass, then what? Nirvana, hardly! More likely, desolation row.

The reports include some very good news. Huge separation in the polls among many groups of women, up to 20% in some cases. Significant majority of the general public support for change in Congress, though whether or not they are distributed where the races matter, many of which are in rural, exurban areas, is another question. Let’s please remember that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by way, way over 2.5 million, and that didn’t slow the train by a single second. Reports of surges in voter registration among minorities and young people, more likely Democratic voters, in states as disparate as Pennsylvania and Georgia are very encouraging.

Trump, unsurprisingly, wants the mid-term election to be all about him and a referendum on his presidency. The Democrats seem to want that as well. Anytime that both sides want to use such a strategy to motivate their base to vote, we have an absolute guarantee of a donnybrook. Win, lose, or draw, we can bet on even more polarization raging between now and 2020.

But, let’s stick to the point about the mid-terms and see how all of this plays out as the cleaners sweep up the last crumbs and both sides declare victory over a split Congress. Trump would declare victory at Custer’s Last Stand or the Alamo, even if he had to leave it on a note pinned to his body. McConnell in control of the Senate will still prove to be a major rock in any road forward, while continuing his court packing. The House will convene one investigation after another and there will be huge fights on budgets and other matters that requite cooperation assuring more headlines about conflict, but not necessarily more proof of able governance. Meanwhile the candidate circus will come to every town as Trump campaigns for a coronation and the Democrats try to winnow their lists, maybe keeping in mind who can beat Trump and who cannot, and maybe ignoring that altogether.

After the mid-term surge, will women feel safer and more heard? No. Will the devastating attacks on workers’ rights, the environment, deregulation, healthcare, education, and economic security end? No.

Will the attack on immigrants recede? No, in fact the Republicans are signaling that they want to make “the wall” first order of business. There is discussion of yet more children separation as well.

Will there be impeachment? Of course not. Will Trump stop being Trump, absolutely not!

So, what will be the program? Trust in some still unknown savior and save your anger and activity for the general election in two years.

Is that the best we can hope for? Without moving from anger to organization, from lame leaders to mass action, then yes, I’m afraid so.

It’s not enough!


Run the Government? Who Cares?

Zurich     The list seems endless.

The US government’s own scientists warn of catastrophic climate changes, but the administration tut-tuts their reports, preferring ideology to evidence.

There is bipartisan outrage at the likely killing of a Washington Post columnist who was a dissident exile from Saudi Arabia, but President Trump scoffs at canceling an arms deal with the Saudis negotiated by his son-in-law and still under-subscribed.

Rather than enforce wage-and-hour violations, the Department of Labor instead offers an extension of an amnesty deal with little enforcement.

The Commerce Secretary is caught on stock deals and fibbing on his confirmation hearing about asking questions about immigration on the census run by his department.  The Secretary of the Entergy Department and former governor of Texas has to admit that when he advocated shutting the department down, he had no idea what it did, but is now game to run it.  The Secretary of Education seems to have never been to a public school and pretty much advocates getting rid of them.

You get the message, and if you don’t, reading Michael Lewis’ new book, The Fifth Risk, on the early days of the Trump administration transition to begin running the government will be a wakeup call.  The stories Lewis garnered are harrowing.  Trump didn’t want to even pay for transition preparation or begin any transition work until he was told it was required by law, and really not even then, until Stephen Bannon got his attention by noting how he would be embarrassed on the “Morning Joe” show.  When he won the presidency, not only did he get rid of former New Jersey governor Chris Christi who was heading it, but pretty much the whole crew involved in any preparations.

Lewis focuses on the Energy Department as one example because so much of its budget has to do with protection of the country’s nuclear capacity and electricity grid, seemingly pretty nonpartisan, but critical work that can only be done by a government.  The same could be said of the USDA and its farm friendly bureaucracy.  No matter.  Who cares?  Agency career staff complied a score of critical briefing books so that the incoming administration, regardless of who might have won, would understand how things worked so that they could move forward smoothly, even if they wanted to make big changes.  In case after case, the new administration was simply a no show.  When they did show there were few meetings that were little more than perfunctory, and their main objective seemed to have been witch hunting for political opponents in the bureaucracy.

The fifth risk in the title of Lewis’ book really has to do with project management, the ability to make the train run at least in the right direction even if not on time.  No matter how much the Trump administration politics is worrisome, reading Lewis’ book forces the realization that there may be no one really running the store in the government of one of the largest and richest countries in the world.  It’s not who’s on first and what’s on second, it’s no one may be on any base, and, worse, they may not even understand the game.


Please enjoy Vote em out by Willie Nelson.

Thanks to KABF.