There’s precious little to laugh about when considering the current occupant of the White House, but today I found two things I want to share. First, he just fired Steve Bannon!
After all we’ve witnessed in the week since Nazis and white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, and left counter-protesters dead and injured, and the hole the president dug for himself when he couldn’t not share his shining insights on the matter with us, now he’s (finally) cut loose his senior advisor in charge of pandering to the ignorant as if that’s going to make everything all better.
And second, Tina Fey went on TV on topic!
Three weeks in; time to take a breath and assess the new administration in Washington, D.C.
Donald Trump asked Americans to trust him to do what’s right for America; 46% of those who bothered to vote (roughly 27% of Americans who were eligible to vote) took him up on his offer, and that was enough to give him the ticket to the Oval Office. But so far he’s made it plain that he doesn’t respect this country and what it stands for; the only thing he’s interested in is what financially benefits Donald Trump. This is a partial list of some of the fun so far, just off the top of my pointy head:
- the new president tries to make good on a campaign promise to keep Muslims from coming into the country, stabbing at the heart of the great American belief in freedom of religion while playing on the irrational fears of many of the people who elected him…
- and after losing in court, for a second time, his retort is—of course—see you in court
- he succeeded in placing a racist in charge of enforcing civil rights laws…
- an effort highlighted by the Senate voting to silence one of its members when she tried to read into the record a letter that’s already a public document…
- before then allowing at least two other members to go unsanctioned for reading that same document into the record
- a top administration official glibly violates the law but gets just a rap on the knuckles…
- although that shouldn’t be a surprise since the president is happily making a mockery of government ethics by retaining his business interests and turning a profit…
- while the First Lady goes to court seeking damages for not being able to monetize her new position
- the president is still massaging his insatiable ego by repeating the unfounded allegation of a voter fraud that, if true, is so massive as to be unbelievable…
- and making a promise to have his government investigate said claim, a promise that lays dormant (to put in charitably)
- he made good on a promise to nominate a Supreme Court justice from his pre-election list of approved candidates…
- and then by not keeping his Twitter thumb quiet and insulting a judge who had the temerity to disagree with him, Trump forced his high court nominee to blandly chastise his benefactor
Jack Shafer thinks the president of the United States is a child throwing a temper tantrum because he doesn’t get everything he wants; Josh Marshall offers a short list of reminders to help us figure out motivations in the Oval Office; Bill Moyers tries to look past the policies and realize that the chaos which Trump (and President Steve Bannon) are creating is an intentional part of a plan, and Eliot Cohen argues that Trump is behaving exactly as many people (many people) predicted.
Any good news? Yes, there is:
- the judicial system is proving it is not afraid of the new president (unlike damn near every Republican in the House and Senate) and is living up to its responsibility of interpreting the law and acting as a check on the executive (and legislative) branches…
- if new subscription rates are any indication, Americans are being reminded of the value of a free press serving as watchdog and are making their individual contributions to support the effort…
- we have even been able to take a little joy from watching the president’s childish reaction to being criticized. Any president, or anyone who’s ever performed public service at any level, would know to expect disagreement, but this president has apparently lived in a bubble where people do not criticize him, and he doesn’t get it that the world at large doesn’t accept his every utterance as gospel just because he said it. He has no sense of humor about himself, it seems, takes the unimportant stuff way too seriously, and can’t seem to stop himself from feebly trying to parry each thrust from outside the bubble—thank you, Twitter. I giggled when I read that Trump took it out on press secretary Sean Spicer because a woman comedian satirized his briefings on “Saturday Night Live,” so I’m eager to see out how he reacts if it should come to pass that his long-time nemesis Rosie O’Donnell gets a chance to take the role of President Bannon.
What’d I miss? Oh yeah: a New York congressman has “filed a ‘resolution of inquiry’ that amounts to the first legislative step toward impeachment.” And there’s much more. As Crash Davis said to his coach when the coach came to the mound during a game to inquire as to the cause of the delay, “We’re dealing with a lot of shit.” And as my dad would say from time to time, to reinforce that you really didn’t think about what you were doing or saying just then, “How do you like America?”
I like to think I don’t take a back seat to anyone when it comes to defense of civil liberties—I was against the Big Brother-y Patriot Act before it was cool—but I don’t get all the fuss about body scanners in airports.
I’ve been able to mostly ignore the uproar about the Transportation Security Administration’s airport security measures because, well, I’m pretty good at ignore. But I couldn’t look away from a series of posts by Padre Steve, a guy I find to be a pretty entertaining read, on the existential threat to liberty from our surrendering freedoms in the name of security. Admittedly, I was hooked by his extended reference to an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” to illustrate the problem.
With respect to Padre Steve and the others who have suffered indignities at the hands of an idiotic TSA employee, I’m not convinced. It seems likely to me that when one man pithily proclaimed “don’t touch my junk,” that was all that was necessary for the news media—the people with too little judgment and too much space to fill—to rev up the hysteria generator; Howard Kurtz does a good job surveying the landscape of the freak-out over pat-downs.
I’ll posit that we all agree that commercial air travel is not a right but a public accommodation justifiably subject to regulation in the interests of safety—would you get on a plane today if there was no screening of passengers or baggage? We can debate the appropriateness of the screening measures that are being used, but that’s just details. And in the meantime, there’s always the train or the bus.
Most experts believe the full-body scanners do not pose a serious health risk for the vast majority of travelers. As to the complaint that they’re too invasive, because someone will see a black-and-white x-ray depiction of your naked body—
Oh, yeah…verrry sexy.
I don’t think that’s too much to ask for the sake of better collective security, and certainly not when considered against the alternative of an all-over hands-on greeting from the TSA. All in all, the scan seems a reasonable security tactic in a world where religious fanatics convince poor lemmings to stuff their shoes and underwear with explosives to strike a blow against people they don’t know who’ve never harmed them.
But in the spirit of the holiday, I will say I am thankful for the comedy (click the pic):