Is it safe? Can I post now? Is he gone? Out of the country? Unlikely to produce any more domestic gaffes? Unlikely to fire anyone else investigating him? Unable to obstruct justice? Far from the dangerous questions that plague him so? Even farther from the aides who are unable to protect him from himself? Far from his Russian friends? My, but it’s been a strange couple of weeks. Poor Donald Trump. Even his sole source of reliable news is diminished. One of Fox ‘News’ rich old racist white guys just got fired, just after another one of their rich old sexist white guys got fired and their premier rich old racist sexist white guy died. Maybe things will be quiet around here for awhile. At least until the rich-old-white-guy-in-chief gets back. Until then, party on!
So, there’s been a little accident at a nuclear processing plant on the border of Washington State and Oregon State. It’s nothing to worry about–totally under control–completely safe. Just another day. There was this underground tunnel that collapsed (as tunnels sometimes do) at the place where the U.S. keeps more of its nuclear waste and radioactive contamination than anywhere else. It’s a fitting metaphor for the global nuclear power industry, which also seems to be in collapse. Good thing that the problem is over now, with no earthquakes on the way. It would be a shame to have another Fukushima-like scenario. You know, nuclear energy was always just a pathetic byproduct that could never pay for itself. The point of nuclear reactors is to make plutonium so you can make nuclear bombs. Energy and nuclear waste are just the rubbish left over. We kind of know what to do with the one and have abso-freaking-lutely no idea what to do with the other. Iodine, anyone?
It should be painfully evident by now that there is no conceivable point to this blog other than to give me a venue to publicly rant (indoors) and create a record of the weird things that were in the news at the time. So it goes with the latest Trumpian scandal of his firing FBI Director Comey. The thing that bugs me most about this is the dark feeling that when I look back at this long from now, this will seem like the normal part of the presidency–before it, you know, got weird.
Something tells me that President Trump is about to solve the North Korea problem. How? By just being Trump. He’s just finished installing a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea that they don’t want and then decided to charge the South Koreans a billion dollars for it. This has virtually ensured that the disgraced and impeached South Korean president that let him install it will be replaced by a liberal president who will make him take it back. Furthermore, the likely incoming president, Moon Jae-in, will also likely seek some sort of peace with North Korea, making the U.S. presence–and armament–in the Korean peninsula region rather superfluous. Win!
Now that we’ve all had a day to ignore the new 1,665-page U.S. congressional budget, the Washington Post has offered to share the highlights with us. You can see what they think, or you can look for yourself. I found it interesting the the Department of Defense will get $593 billion (an increase of $19.9 billion), the Department of Homeland Security will get $42.4 billion (an increase of 1.45 billion), and the Department of Interior and Environment will get $32.28 billion (an increase of $121 million). It’s true that the EPA lost $81.4 million, but they still have $8.06 billion left (to destroy America (kidding!)).
Ok, that’s out of the way–now for the fun stuff. I found out that CBS’s John Dickerson was holding out on us. He saved the really good stuff for today, because…oh, who knows why, but here’s a great clip where he asks Big Donnie T-bird why he called President Obama “sick and bad.” I love the part where he reminds the Trumpster that he’s the president of the United States, as if that’s going to shock him into giving a coherent response.
JOHN DICKERSON: But you stand by that claim about him?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don’t stand by anything. I just– you can take it the way you want. I think our side’s been proven very strongly. And everybody’s talking about it. And frankly it should be discussed. I think that is a very big surveillance of our citizens. I think it’s a very big topic. And it’s a topic that should be number one. And we should find out what the hell is going on.
JOHN DICKERSON: I just wanted to find out, though. You’re– you’re the president of the United States. You said he was “sick and bad” because he had tapped you– I’m just–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You can take– any way. You can take it any way you want.
The U.S. congress has agreed on how to spend $1 trillion over the next few months. They spend about $3-4 trillion every year, but this budget keeps them in business until September. I can never understand this budget business. There are some pie charts here and other graphs here. They’re helpful. But, what does the new administration want to spend money on? According to the white house, just one thing–the military. Really, that’s all? Compared to past budgets, that doesn’t seem too complicated. But, maybe it shouldn’t be. The new president certainly doesn’t have as much to say about his budget as the old one did. Maybe he’s not as interested in money, or, maybe he doesn’t like to write long introductions. Either way, I didn’t see a border wall listed.
One thing that won’t be getting much new funding from the new administration is environmental protection. In fact, Fox ‘News’ informs us that the EPA website has scrubbed its climate change web pages. That may be, but there still seem to be a few left here, here, here, and here. Revisionism takes a while.
Finally, I’m going to post a long quote. I read the recent 100-day interview of President Trump by John Dickerson on CBS. The problem is, it’s very hard for me to make sense of the interview because Trump keeps interrupting Dickerson. I found that, by removing Trump from the discussion, it became much easier to understand what both of them were trying to say. So, here is my edited version of the interview. Just pretend it’s a phone call and you only hear one side. Bob Newhart used to do great sketches like this.
- JD: Mr. President, you and the administration said to North Korea, “Don’t test a missile.” They have tested a missile. Is the pressure not working?
- JD: You say, “Not happy.” What does that mean?
- JD: Not happy mean military action?
- JD: The Chinese, our allies, have been allies with North Korea. How are you sure that they’re not using this as a way to test you?
- JD: Why do–
- JD: Why do these missiles keep blowing up?
- JD: You don’t want to discuss it because maybe we have something to do with it?
- JD: What do you make of the North Korean leader?
- JD: Let me ask you a question about the presidency. George W. Bush said this about being president. He said, “You think one thing going in, and then the pressures of the job or the realities of the world are different than you thought.” Do you agree?
- JD: You said in an interview with Reuters that you thought it would be easier. Why?
- JD: You mean me personally or?
- JD: But that had been true before. That had been true–
- JD: –during the campaign, sir.
- JD: You were the one who got China–
- JD: –to stop manipulating their currency?
- JD: Even if they were doing it before?
- JD: Let me–
- JD: You’re a negotiator. If you need something from somebody, you need China to help you with North Korea, doesn’t that send a message to China, “We’re not going to bug you about human rights, about intellectual property. In the South China Sea we’re not going to put too much heat on you”? Aren’t you breaking one of your own negotiating rules?
- JD: Let me ask you–
- JD: Let me ask–
- JD: What do you know now on day 100 that you wish you knew on day one of the presidency?
- JD: That’s all you’ve learned, about the media? You knew from the campaign about the media. You said it all the time —
- JD: So–
- JD: No, no, I meant–
- JD: Here’s a question.
- JD: Let’s step back a minute.
- JD: Presidents have to learn how to adapt. Every president comes into the job, it’s different than they expect, they must adapt. Surely, you’ve learned something else other than that the media is dishonest.
- JD: And how do you adapt?
- JD: Give me another thing you learned that you’re going to adapt and change because all presidents have to at this stage.
- JD: Why?
- JD: I want to get to–
- JD: Let me ask you about health care — Tucker Carlson interviewed you about six weeks ago when you were in the middle of health care negotiations. And you agreed with him that the health care bill wasn’t going to help your supporters. That those who lived in rural areas, the older, were going to get hurt by that bill. And you told him–
- JD: Well, hold on. Let me just finish the question, if I may, sir–
- JD: Well, this is why I wanted to ask you. You said to Tucker, “We will take care of our people, or I am not signing it.” You said you were going to negotiate.
- JD: So tell me what in the bill you’ve been negotiating to get–
- JD: –in that helps your supporters. I’m just trying to get the details of how your people–
- JD: –will be helped.
- JD: So–
- JD: I just want to compare you to your own.
- JD: No, no, but I want–
- JD: No, but I’m not. I’m asking what–
- JD: –you’re going to do.
- JD: So but in the bill, as it was analyzed, there were two problems. One, and you talked about this with Congressman Robert Aderholt, who brought you the example of the 64-year-old who under Obamacare the premiums–
- JD: But has that been fixed?
- JD: How?
- JD: What kind though?
- JD: Help us explain because there are people–
- JD: –out there wondering what kind of changes.
- JD: Okay.
- JD: But that’s not in–
- JD: –this bill. The borders are not in–
- JD: –this bill. It’s in that third bill, right, because–
- JD: Okay.
- JD: Let me–
- JD: So–
- JD: So what you’ve just described is the bill that you previously had said you worried wouldn’t help your people. And here’s why I ask. You said, “Pre-existing conditions.”
- JD: Okay.
- JD: Although–
- JD: In one of the fixes that was–
- JD: In one of the fixes it was discussed pre-existing was optional for the states–
- JD: –oh, okay. So it’ll–
- JD: –be permanent?
- JD: Okay. Well, that’s a development, sir. So you’re saying it’s going to be pre-existing to everybody?
- JD: Just to–
- JD: Let me ask you something–
- JD: Okay. So what I hear you saying is pre-existing is going to be in there for everybody, it’s not going to be up to the states?
- JD: And it’s not up to the states?
- JD: Okay.
- JD: But on that crucial question, it’s not going to be left up to the states? Everybody gets pre-existing, no matter where they live?
- JD: Guaranteed?
- JD: Okay. Is it a guarantee?
- JD: Let me.
- JD: People out there with pre-existing conditions, they are worried. Are they going to have the guarantee of coverage if they have a pre-existing condition or if they live in a state where the governor decides that’s not a part of the health care, or that the prices are going to go up? That’s the worry. The American Medical Association says–
- JD: –it could effectively make coverage completely unaffordable for people.
- JD: So I’m not hearing you, Mr. President, say there’s a guarantee of pre-existing conditions.
- JD: Okay, excellent. We got there.
- JD: Let me ask you–
- JD: –about your tax plan.
- JD: Tax plan came out this week. It’s got some big deficit numbers. You’ve said that’s going to be made up by growth. Congressional–
- JD: Let me.
- JD: Look–
- JD: Let me ask you this, Mr. President. Congress may not go along with–
- JD: –so they’re going to try and find some spending. Let me ask you about the question of Medicare. They’re going to want, in Congress, to make up on the spending side, to change Medicare. Will you allow that?
- JD: But, sir, will you allow it?
- JD: Does President Donald Trump want them not to do that?
- JD: It sounds as if, having covered you in the campaign, it sounds like you’re leaving the door open. On the campaign, you were quite clear. You said, “I’m the guy who’s not going to touch Medicare.”
- JD: So if I–
- JD: For me, if I have it now, or if I’m going to have it in the future, it’s not getting cut?
- JD: And that’s it?
- JD: Other than that, it’s tightened up?
- JD: Let me ask you about your tax returns, sir. When your Treasury secretary was asked about whether you were going to release them, Secretary Mnuchin said, “The president has no intention.” Is that right?
- JD: I just wanted to make sure–
- JD: –you weren’t changing.
- JD: Have you–
- JD: Let me ask you–
- JD: You–
- JD: You first said that you were under audit, were going to wait till that was done, about 14 months ago. That seems like a long time. When do you think this might happen? Are you asking them?
- JD: When? Give me a sense of–
- JD: A member of Congress suggested that a condition for getting tax reform would be releasing your tax returns. What do you think about that?
- JD: So you’re not buying that deal.
- JD: You said yesterday on FOX that Russia is a phony story. Which part of it is phony?
- JD: Meaning the Trump campaign?
- JD: But you don’t mean–
- JD: Let me ask you this, sir.
- JD: I–
- JD: Look–
- JD: You don’t think it’s phony that they, the Russians, tried to meddle in the election? You believe that?
- JD: That you don’t know or you do know?
- JD: You don’t–
- JD: So President Donald Trump is ambivalent–
- JD: –about or not ambivalent, you’re not just not sure?
- JD: But you don’t think it’s the Russians–
- JD: But–
- JD: But there is agreement in the intelligence communities and other places and investigative communities on the Hill that Russia was–
- JD: –involved in the election.
- JD: Mr. President, I think we’re going to have to end it there.
I would like to acknowledge and celebrate all of the things that Donald Trump might have accomplished by now but hasn’t. There is no new border wall with Mexico (even planned). The U.S. hasn’t ramped up any major new aggressions in the middle east and they haven’t tried to invade North Korea. Major tax cuts for wealthy corporations and people haven’t passed (yet). National parks have not yet been sold off to private interests and the EPA still exists in some form. I’m sure horrible stuff is on the way, but at least most of it hasn’t happened yet.
Here’s the take from the usual suspects:
- New York Times
- Washington Post (a pro-administration opinion piece “By Donald J. Trump”)
- Google (for more sources)
Happy Day 100.