When Trump first trotted out his hypothesis that logging would have somehow saved the large swaths of construction from forest fires, I rolled my eyes and thought back to his campaign touted secret plan to defeat ISIL … which turned out to be consulting Generals. Which, as far as a military tactic goes is, worked about as well as all of the previous approaches (which, I suppose in his head, did not include this brilliant consulting step). Logging — which generally takes the big solid part of the tree (a.k.a. the trunk) and leaves behind all of the little bits (twigs, branches, leaves, underbrush) seems more apt to promote conflagrations — all of those little twigs, branches, leaves, and whatnot lay around, dry up … insta-kindling.
But yesterday’s proclamation that we’d be fine if we were only cleaning up the forest floor like Finland really bothers me. Not because of the obvious climate differences between a country averaging 27″ of rain (and I believe had an above average precipitation total last year) and an area that got, what, not quite 5″ in the last July-June season? Or the twenty or thirty degree temperature difference. But because of the absolute ignorance of international news. This is the sort of thing people at the White House get paid to keep track of. Finland had an unusual number of fires this last year. Sweden too.
How a company, political organization, or non-profit spends their money doesn’t bother me that much — it’s a factor I consider when donating to “the cause” or purchasing from a company. I can appreciate that one feels betrayed when, say, some of your University tuition is used to pay off women and pizza delivery people who have been attacked by the school’s hockey team, thus suppressing reporting and criminal charges (then bragging to prospective students about the ZERO on-campus crime rate). Or the quasi-celebrity fronted charity uses donations to settle legal disputes involving the quasi-celebrity. Or your political party offers a decent salary to someone they simultaneously claim is a terrible employee who needed to be fired. *But* those were all choices you made. And you’re free to make new choices next time around based on new information. I can even see how it would really suck to believe the Republican party has the right way of things, and you *want* to provide financial support, but you also have to accept that some percent of your contributions are going to salary for unqualified individuals who they want to keep quiet.
What bothers *me* is that Trump has essentially admitted he handed a 179,700$ per year job to an utterly unqualified individual because of their personal relationship.
*I* didn’t chose the grifter-in-chief, but it’s still my tax money going to his friends (at that, to his “racist dude’s obligatory non-white, I cannot be a racist because Bob’s my friend” friend … although there are *whole binders full* of unqualified old white dudes grifting in Trump’s administration too.)
Our tax money going to political supporters who are unqualified for the job? That’s why we’ve got the Pendleton Act and the subsequent civil service system — every politician could find somewhere for their friends and supporters to suck up taxpayer money for a few years. And the inverse: a politician could garner key supporters by offering them cushy government positions. And an unlucky politician could garner a supporter who considered himself key, anger the chap by not giving him one of those cushy jobs, and get shot. Maybe it’s time to eliminate the remaining “at the pleasure of the president” job appointments.
I’ve thought of Trump’s EO on child separation like a fireman torching buildings and “saving” people from the inferno. But his actions are more like throwing the person a dodgy life preserver he knows was recalled a few years back and calling himself a hero as soon as the person touches the thing. Anyone bother dragging the dude to safety? Anyone care that the preserver takes on water and sinks ten seconds later? Nope – I threw the thing, so I saved the guy.
The Obama admin took the “family detention center” approach to the issue. Flores v Lynch 212 F.Supp.3d 907 (2015) found that this violated the 1997 Flores Agreement *and* ordered the release of (I’m too lazy to look up how many) both detained children and their parents. Flores v. Lynch, 828 F.3d 898 (2016) determined that the *parents* did not have an affirmative right of release under the agreement … and what do you do if you are legally barred from holding the kids but *could* hold the parents. You either separate families or release both parents and children.
So Trump signs an EO saying to take measures consistent with the law to avoid separating families. What’s that fix? Either they do what they are doing today (and cite Flores v. Lynch as REQUIRING they separate families because the kids are not actually being detained but rather waiting for accommodations whilst their parents are detained during their transit of the legal system) or they go the family detention center route & pretend like they’re trying to convince some judge how this is materially different than when Obama did it.
Because no one could foresee tragedy when dumping thousands of young kids in tents across a part of the country that gets more than a little warm. The forecast for Fort Bliss (oh, the irony!) on Saturday is 105 degrees Farenheit.
I’ll concede that’s cherry picked data – today’s high is 99, tomorrow it’s 100. Thurs 101, Fri 104, and Sun – Tue are 101. But I’m not sure “it wasn’t 105 F *every* day” is going to be a lot of comfort to kids suffering from heat stroke in some overcrowded tent.
I wondered if this was the logic when he first started in about how it was the Democrat’s that were forcing the separation. Not that the Dem’s passed some laws forcing kids to be separated from parents but that the Dem’s refusal to just go along with asinine policies that don’t even do much to reduce illegal entries mean the trump administration “has” to do all of this terrible stuff. Good to see the master negotiator at work here.
Curious, too, that *immigration* laws are going to deter ‘criminals’ whereas gun laws won’t. I’d almost give on immigration policies for the analogous gun control policy: a wall (longer waiting periods), merit based immigration (more background checks and reasons for denying ownership), ending lottery/chain (no gun or ownership is grandfathered)
Those who do not know history compound errors by using phrases with loaded meanings or abysmal histories. As the World Meteorological Organization’s Hurricane Committee retires names so no one has another Katrina approaching them, I assumed politicians would retire phrases which haunt their predecessors. Then there’s this guy:
With a narrowly defined ‘mission’, sure it’s true. But GW stood in front of someone else’s sign and “mission accomplished” still hasn’t escaped the new connotative meaning.
I thought James Comey was fired in about the worst way imaginable – giving a speech at a remote office, he sees a TV with a banner announcing her termination and thinks it’s a joke. Which … I know a lot of people with that sense of humor. I remember putting an etc\hosts record to direct someone’s company home page to an internal sandbox web server, cloning over the internal home page project, and editing it to announce the company’s merger with some big competitor and the immediate closing of the HQ office. Screen grabbing CNN, throwing on a new banner, then playing the video back isn’t a stretch.
Then Rex Tillerson, who set out to prove experience negotiating mineral rights contracts is the same as negotiating international political situations where everyone isn’t getting what they want, read his boss’s tweet and learned he was terminated. This is what you get when 48% of voters want a guy whose fame, really, was firing people (in new and dramatic ways) on TV.
One thing I respected about the first President Bush was that he didn’t attempt to secure re-election by re-invading Iraq. The 1990-1991 invasion of Iraq led to significant jumps in Bush’s approval rating — 15% at the onset and 20% when we “won”. And a surge of nationalism (and the “don’t change horses mid race” thinking that certainly helped his son’s re-election bid) that accompanies military action may well have allowed him to win in 1992.
George W didn’t have terrible approval ratings at the onset of his presidency – his approval number was over 50% just before 9/11. But his approval rating hit near 90% in the immediate aftermath.
Which brings me to Trump. Someone who loves glowing praise. And who kicked off a new round of trade wars with tariffs on steel and aluminium which may allow some increased domestic production, but is more apt to make everything that uses steel or aluminium more expensive. Or maybe it make more sense to make parts in Canada and truck the bits South. Or maybe finished products crossing the ocean become cost competitive. And that doesn’t even address adverse response from trading partners.
If the guy was sufficiently delusional to believe it was possible for any president to receive a surfeit of adoration, and by his own admission he’s not into fomenting new wars (+he has some existing wars in which to drop huge bombs +the general population has had more than enough warring to last a few lifetimes) … is it possible this is a self-aggrandizing trade war?
A descendant of Walt Disney — one whose family has a load of cash and stands to inherit a load of cash herself — has a video on the Facebook page of NowThis … it is generally similar to their other videos with rich people saying “this tax bill gives me a HUGE percentage gain, might give you a little bit until your provisions sunset, and generally is a bad idea and you’re about to be screwed over with ‘needed to reduce the deficit’ cuts to social safety nets, education, infrastructure, research funding, small business funding, farm assistance programs, etc”. She, however, says that individuals voting for their own interest over a common good isn’t democracy. It’s anarchy. That’s an interesting distinction. And it made me think of how people often conflate free market capitalism and democratic governance.
The “invisible hand” principal of free market capitalism — not the phrase as it was actually used by Adam Smith but the generalized colloquial usage — is that the whole is optimized by each individual seeking to assure their own self-interest. A bit like maximum k sums in set theory – the largest possible sum of k numbers from a set is the sum of the largest k numbers in the set. While a specific individual may suffer misfortune, this assertion of optimization is microscopically reasonable. The economy grows when most individuals increases their value simultaneously.
Can the same be true of democracy? Does advocating for one’s self-interest promote societal optimizations as well? Or does looking only at one’s self-interest delve into anarchy? I believe the answer depends on how narrowly one defines one’s own self-interest. Abigail Disney offers a ironic example of this in her video – fuck over enough of the middle class and there won’t be Disney customers anymore. Maybe they’re rich enough to not care financially, but family members’ social standing is diminished by losing the company. The family legacy is lost. How does the individual weigh “keeping the fortune in the family” against “sustaining the company my grandfather helped create”? One problem in American politics is an incredibly narrow view — don’t believe in climate change, whatever. But you do breathe air and drink water, right? Why would you want companies to dump mining sludge into rivers and spew petrochemicals into the air? (Answer: Because you are thinking so narrowly that you concern yourself only with the natural resources within a few miles of your house … neglecting to consider how these things move around the globe.).
Unfortunately, “self-interest” is defined narrowly (e.g. a single issue voter), ignores long term consequences (e.g. anti-environmentalism), and fails to consider the realistic complex multi-variable picture (e.g. the interconnectedness of all things means Disney lady saves a couple hundred thousand on her taxes, but their company goes through reorg bankruptcy as disposable incomes drop in a few years).