The Curmudgeon continues his periodic look at life under the big top of the Trump administration, with an emphasis on appalling aspects of it that in some cases may be flying a little under the radar.
The Crux of a Presidency
Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.
Actually, Mr. President, they did. In fact, damn near EVERYONE knew it was so complicated. That you didn’t, that you express such surprise that it is, may say more about your fitness for the office than anything you’ve ever said.
Even the Billy Bush stuff.
What’s Sauce for the Goose…
When Congress took a brief recess recently – and The Curmudgeon has always been amused that the legislative branch of government uses the same term as third-graders to describe a brief respite from the regular routine – many returned home to face (or, in many cases, to dodge) constituents who suddenly realized that Obamacare was the only thing standing between them and death and no longer want it repealed. Comrade Trump tweeted that the angry town hall gatherings were, well, trumped up.
The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!
Hmmm: angry crowds inspired by activists: sounds an awful lot like the tea party crowds that greeted Democratic members of Congress during the first few months of Barack Obama’s presidency.
The Shadow Knows
But the conspiracy theorist in Comrade Trump has other ideas about those protesters – because, well, if at first your conspiracy theory doesn’t capture the public’s imagination, try, try again.
So who else might be behind those angry protests?
I think that President Obama is behind it because his people certainly are behind it. In terms of him being behind things, that’s politics. It will probably continue.
The (conspiracy) theory is that former President Obama is running a shadow government trying to undermine The Donald. The Curmudgeon recently shared a video of a member of Congress trying to tell this to an audience the congressman clearly thought was full of idiots, because no one else would swallow such nonsense.
Hey – Nobody Said There’d Be Math!
Not Exactly a Rounding Error
While ignoring those interested in preserving the increase in how many Americans have health insurance, Comrade Trump found time to meet with executives of health insurance companies: you know, leaders of an entire industry that, if it disappeared tomorrow, would leave the country a better place and health care costs far, far lower. Bemoaning Obamacare’s failure, he lamented all those people who decided to pay the financial penalty for failure to purchase insurance instead of buying insurance.
How many such people? Nearly 20 million, the president said.
Not quite: the actual figure: 6.5 million in 2015.
As Maxwell Smart so often said, “Missed it by THAT much.”
The Math is a Little Off
“Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force,” Comrade Trump tells us, implying that there are ninety-four million people out there looking for work who can’t find any.
Ninety-four million? Not even close.
That number includes college students.
And people who are retired – like The Curmudgeon’s eighty-two-year-old mother.
And the disabled.
And somewhere between seven and eight million people who are actually out of work and looking for jobs.
But why would the president let a little thing like the truth get in the way of a good story?
More Bad Math
The president likes to say the U.S. has spent $6 trillion on the recent wars in the middle east.
The actual number is $1.6 trillion.
Which is just a tad less.
The man’s capacity for making up stuff – okay, for lying – is amazing. There’s no shame, not even a hint of it.
Republicans and their leader, Comrade Trump, don’t like Obamacare. Well, that’s their right: they’re entitled to their opinion.
One of the challenges with Obamacare has been that it’s been so hard to predict how many people would get insurance through Obamacare, whether premiums would rise or fall, whether all the states would expand their Medicaid programs, and more. So Comrade Trump left a lot of people shaking their heads when, noting that Obamacare was getting worse rather than better, he explained that
’17 would be a disaster for Obamacare. That’s the year it was meant to explode because Obama won’t be there. That was when it was supposed to be even worse.
“Meant to explode,” he said, doing so with a straight face and without his head exploding.
Think about that: Comrade Trump is suggesting that the same people who couldn’t figure out how Obamacare would unfold, who got so many projections wrong, who weren’t very smart people anyway, somehow had the knowledge and expertise to time Obamacare’s growing problems to coincide with their president’s departure from office.
Time for a Pause
Oops, it’s the weekend as The Curmudgeon writes this part of this blog entry and The Curmudgeon doesn’t work on weekends. Time to get in his plane and fly off to his Florida weekend home.
What Comes Around Goes Around
Candidate Donald Trump loved leaks: loved the leaks that cost Debbie Wasserman Schultz her gig as chair of the Democratic National Committee, loved the leaks that contributed to Hillary Clinton’s loss of voter support, loved all the leaks that helped his candidacy.
Now? Not such a big fan.
The Washington Post recently reported that Trump is “…mad – steaming, raging mad” – about all of the leaks coming out of his administration.
In fact, those leakers are people very close to him. After all, how many people do you think were in the room when he had his obnoxious telephone conversations with the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Australia? Not only are the people around him leaking, but the leakers almost certainly are some of the people who are closest to him and whom he trusts the most.
Who could the leakers be? It’s hard to say, but those who are closest to him appear to be Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Kellyanne Conway, Jared Kushner, and Reince Priebus. Conway’s probably not in the room when a lot of those conversations are being held, so it’s probably one of the others. Surely Comrade Trump knows this, and it must be devastating to realize that someone you trust so completely has betrayed you so thoroughly. (For what it’s worth, The Curmudgeon’s money is on Bannon.)
Does He or Doesn’t He…
…want to repeal Obamacare? He said so when he ran for president – said it again and again and again – and has said so countless times since he took office. In fact, he said it yesterday – and then kind of unsaid it.
How do we explain him publicly declaring that “The Republicans, frankly, are putting themselves in a very bad position – I tell this to Tom Price all the time – by repealing Obamacare.”
Because people aren’t gonna see the truly devastating effects of Obamacare. They’re not gonna see the devastation. In ’17 and ’18 and ’19, it’ll be gone by then. Whether we do it or not, it’ll be imploded off the map.
He’s also suggested that Republicans just abandon their repeal efforts, let the current situation deteriorate, and then blame Democrats for the problems.
What to make of this? On one hand he says it’s going to implode, or just deteriorate, on the other, that Republicans shouldn’t want to repeal it or shouldn’t do anything about it.
So what does he want to do – let it implode and hurt millions of people? Is THAT what the president of the United States wants to do?
The Narcissist Grades His Performance
In terms of messaging, I would give myself a C or a C plus…
the president told Fox & Friends.
Take note, Kellyanne and Melissa McCarthy: your boss just put you on the hot seat.
In terms of achievement, I think I’d give myself an A. Because I think I’ve done great things, but I don’t think I have – I and my people, I don’t think we’ve explained it well enough to the American people.
So this raises a natural question: what on earth does the man thing he’s accomplished?
The Income Tax Leak
You may be surprised to learn that The Curmudgeon isn’t a fan of Rachel Maddow, mostly because he’s not a fan of being talked down to. She can be very, very good, but she also can pick some strange things to obsess about – endlessly.
But Maddow was on television in the background last week and when The Curmudgeon heard her tease a special report about Trump’s tax returns he dismissed it as probably just another report in which there was no new information, just a few minutes for Maddow to complain about the lack of tax returns. But when he heard Maddow refer to David Cay Johnston as the source of the information he put down his book (Live From New York: An Uncensored History Of Saturday Night Live) and gave the television his full attention because he knows that Johnston is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who once worked for the New York Times and is actually a very credible reporter.
Of course Comrade Trump did not agree, so he tweeted,
Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, “went to his mailbox” and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!
Well, Donnie, a lot of people know who Johnston is, a lot of people have heard of him, and your own staff immediately confirmed the authenticity of the tax return he shared with the public.
In other words, Mr. President, your own people confirmed that the report was REAL NEWS!
So The Curmudgeon’s verdict is “FAKE OBJECTION, NUMNUTS!”
But That’s Not What He Meant
It took the White House about four days to get around to attempting to walk back the president’s allegation that the Obama administration, and perhaps President Obama himself, tapped the phones at Trump Tower. (And can’t you just break out in giggles at the thought of Barack Obama himself sneaking into Trump Tower at two in the morning and placing a bug in a vase or under the table or maybe behind a toilet and then quickly checking out Trump’s computer for porn before sneaking out?) When they did, the White House based its defense of the president on punctuation, of all things, noting that the president had referred to wiretaps – or wiretapps, if you will – in quotation marks, suggesting that he didn’t mean literal wiretapps. And the truth is that two of Trump’s wiretapp tweets did refer to wiretapps in quotation marks. They are:
Mar 4, 2017 06:35:20 AM Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
Mar 4, 2017 06:49:00 AM Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!
In pursuing this approach to the considerable challenge of defending the indefensible, White House court jester and fashion icon Sean Spicer conveniently overlooked two tweets that made the allegation more directly – and without the quotation marks:
Mar 4, 2017 06:52:54 AM I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!
Mar 4, 2017 07:02:48 AM How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!
The British are Coming, the British are Coming!
Coming to tapp, the president claims. That’s right: he’s now saying the Obama administration prevailed on the British to do its dirty work for it and wiretapp the Trump Tower phones during the campaign.
Sounds like a job for Austin Powers, international man of mystery.
And One More Thing About Spying
If the Trump administration seems a little sensitive on the subject of wiretapping, maybe it’s because it’s not above a little spying of its own. As last Sunday’s Washington Post reported:
Most members of President Trump’s Cabinet do not yet have leadership teams in place or even nominees for top deputies. But they do have an influential coterie of senior aides installed by the White House who are charged — above all — with monitoring the secretaries’ loyalty, according to eight officials in and outside the administration.
This shadow government of political appointees with the title of senior White House adviser is embedded at every Cabinet agency, with offices in or just outside the secretary’s suite. The White House has installed at least 16 of the advisers at departments including Energy and Health and Human Services and at some smaller agencies such as NASA, according to records first obtained by ProPublica through a Freedom of Information Act request.
These aides report not to the secretary, but to the Office of Cabinet Affairs, which is overseen by Rick Dearborn, a White House deputy chief of staff, according to administration officials. A top Dearborn aide, John Mashburn, leads a weekly conference call with the advisers, who are in constant contact with the White House.
In other words, the Trump administration is spying on itself and is routinely saddling its cabinet secretaries with high-ranking tattletales they can’t trust.
A Thought About the Controversial Travel Bans
When the Trump administration issued its first anti-Muslim travel ban – the one the courts overturned – it said it was only a temporary ban because it needed three months to figure out how to do a better job investigating people before admitting them to this country.
Well, tic toc, tic toc…
That first travel ban was issued on January 27. That was two months ago.
So why did the second travel ban, issued March 6, seek the same three months’ ban? Haven’t they even started yet? Shouldn’t six more weeks have been enough to complete the work needed to decide how to review entry applications more thoroughly?
And now that the second travel ban has temporarily been overturned and the Trump legal elves are no doubt furiously drafting a third, what possible rationale can there be for again seeking a three-month travel ban when, very soon, the entire three months they originally sought will have passed?
Or can’t these people do more than one thing at a time?
Tic toc, tic toc…