There Is No Hinge

Rational actors – in this case, two individuals in positions of considerable power within the United States government – had an open and honest conversation about the abnormal state of affairs in this country. Their frankness speaks to the fact that they were unaware of the searing temperature of a nearby microphone. Here’s a portion of what Senators Collins and Reed inadvertently entered into the public record concerning the mad king and his sycophantic courtiers:

“I swear, [the Office of Management and Budget] just went through and whenever there was ‘grant,’ they just X it out,” Collins says. “With no measurement, no thinking about it, no metrics, no nothing. It’s just incredibly irresponsible.”

“Yes,” Reed replies. “I think — I think he’s crazy,” apparently referring to the president. “I mean, I don’t say that lightly and as a kind of a goofy guy.”

“I’m worried,” Collins replies.

Susan Collins’ worry is valid. The descriptor “unhinged” is inadequate, as the “un” implies there was ever a hinge. Donald Trump’s lifetime of instability is now writ large, his delusional ego masturbation well outside the parodic.

Thousands of Boy Scouts bore witness to 45’s hingelessness Monday night, as he regaled young men ranging in age from 12 to 17 with tales of New York socialites, threatened to fire Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, encouraged scouts to boo Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and bragged about the size of his election. Former acting CIA director under George W. Bush John McLaughlin compared the speech to “a third-world authoritarian’s youth rally”. 

As Trump’s disturbing behavior continues month after month, there are signs (albeit tentative) that Republicans can no longer pretend that everything is hunky-dory; that some recognize the country has slid into a period of misrule. In particular, it seems the Senate as a larger deliberative body is finally coming to grips with how the president’s howl-at-the-moon lunacy has upended the rules and traditions that bind society together.

Senator John McCain bolded and underlined the need for the majority party to stand up to Trumpism today in his take-no-prisoners speech on the Senate floor.

We are an important check on the powers of the Executive. Our consent is necessary for the President to appoint jurists and powerful government officials and in many respects to conduct foreign policy. Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the President’s subordinates. We are his equal!

As long as the current system of government is in place, the Senate has a constitutional responsibility to exercise that check of powers against a man who is constitutionally incapable of understanding, let alone showing, restraint. It may be like hoping a lone palm tree will withstand hurricane-force winds, but right now, it’s about all we have.

(Year Zero/Day One Hundred and Eighty-Seven)

The Fate Of Obama’s Tepid Reforms

In the halcyon days of 2010, passage of the Dodd-Frank Act seemed to reassure the Democrats and independents who voted Barack Obama into office that concrete steps had been taken to safeguard the market against the flagrant chicanery that led to The Great Recession. The “Too Big To Fail” stress test provision in particular was to be the balm to still-lingering economic uncertainty that troubled the lower classes. The reforms typified the Obama approach: capitulatory and decidedly tepid. Dodd-Frank never quite worked out as promised, but as neoliberal policy it performed its function of maintaining Wall Street’s primacy with minor modifications.

Also typical of Obama’s half-measures to serious structural problems: The protracted struggle for moderate change against intransigent foes seems like a cosmic joke now that Donald Trump is taking a scythe to every piece of paper the last president signed off on. The coke-addled psychopaths at the stock exchange welcomed Trump’s proclamation that Dodd-Frank will be dismantled. The act’s provisions have placed such an undue burden on the financial sector that commercial lending is at a 70-year-high. It must be a coincidence that it rose steadily starting in 2010. It will also be a coincidence that the president unfettered the wealthy to plunder what little the rest of us are holding on to the next time the economic comes shuddering to a halt.

(Year Zero/Day Fifteen)