February 2017, Part 4

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Comedy, Tragedy, Or Both?  It's hard to know how to classify this Donald Trump discovery.
Trump on Monday theorized that polls show the program’s approval rating climbing not because people like it, but because they know Republicans will soon repeal it.  He did not offer more of an explanation for the claim.

“People hate it, but now they see that the end is coming, and they're saying, ‘Oh, maybe we love it,’” Trump said.  “There's nothing to love.   It's a disaster, folks.”

He also seemed to express surprise at the complexity of the reform process.   “I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” Trump said.   “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”
(Emphasis added.)

Actually, anyone who has spent a few days reading and thinking about health care could know that it is complex — and anyone who regularly read a serious newspaper could know that health care is an exceptionally nasty problem, politically.

In 1993, when Hillary Clinton took on the task of reforming American health care, I was impressed by her ambition — and suspected that she, like Trump now, underestimated the problems, substantive and political.

She had, I thought, not been paying as much attention as she should have to such things as the catastrophic care debacle — under Ronald Reagan.

Or perhaps she just overestimated her own abilities, slightly.

That Trump missed all this, that he is surprised by the complexity is, from one point of view, wonderfully funny; it's like seeing a new football coach being surprised by the complexity of play calling.  From another point of view, it's tragic, since we put this clueless coach in charge because he gave rousing locker room speeches.

Perhaps the best thing to do is compromise and call it a tragicomedy.
- 3:08 PM, 28 February 2017   [link]

If You Didn't Watch The Oscars — Most Of Us Didn't — You Missed some awful jokes.

(As I've mentioned before, our professional cartoonists and joke tellers are finding it hard to be funny about Donald Trump.  Which is weird if you think about all the straight lines he gives us, but understandable if you think they are mired in their own deep dislike of the man.)
- 9:12 AM, 28 February 2017   [link]

Many Of Us Feel This Way at least occasionally.
- 8:39 AM, 28 February 2017   [link]

What Do Germans Think Of Donald Trump?  Not much.
As magazine covers go, it certainly isn't subtle.  The latest issue of the German newsweekly Der Spiegel depicts U.S. President Donald Trump using a knife to behead the Statue of Liberty.  While some German publications and politicians argued that Der Spiegel went too far, the magazine has certainly tapped into the zeitgeist of Germany today.  Trump is highly unpopular there, recent polls show.

A survey by pollster Infratest dimap found that only 15 percent of Germans believe Trump is competent, and 87 percent say he's not good for Germany.   Another Infratest poll found that only 22 percent of Germans trust the United States as a partner, a steep drop of 37 percentage points since November.
That 22 percent, I learned from an article in the February 8th issue of the Wall Street Journal, is about the same percentage as trust Russia.

Does this shift in public opinion in Germany matter?

After all, aren't the interests of the two nations still closely aligned?

My answer to the second question is yes, but my answer to the first question is still a little now, and possibly much more later.

And I will remind you that leaders don't always act in their nations' best interests.

(Here's that Der Spiegel cover.  We should expect more, similarly crude, attacks on Trump in Europe, especially in Germany.)
- 2:43 PM, 27 February 2017   [link]

World's Largest Cigarette Lighter:  That's what the Seattle police and fire departments are trying to prevent, right now.
SEATTLE -- An overturned tanker carrying butane has forced the closure of all lanes of I-5 in the heart of Seattle, making for an instant traffic nightmare in the city.

The crash involving a tanker and two other vehicles happened in the southbound lanes of the I-5 collector-distributor lanes to I-90 around 10 a.m.  But emergency officials decided the surrounding mainline lanes of I-5 and the nearby offramps needed to be closed for safety while the tanker and crash site is stabilized.
So far, the butane has stayed contained, though a little diesel fuel has leaked.

Accidents like these are, in my opinion, arguments for less centralized cities, with less centralized transportation systems.  As far as I can tell, almost all city planners disagree with me on that.

(For those unfamiliar with Seattle:  I-5 is the main north-south route through the city.  The crash also caused problems on I-90, the main east-west route.

For those needing a review, butane.)
- 12:53 PM, 27 February 2017   [link]

Didn't East Germany Get In Trouble For Doing That?  You have almost certainly heard about the girl wrestler in Texas who wants to be a boy.

And is taking testosterone in order to be more like a boy.

Which will remind some of us older folks of this scandal.
The German Democratic Republic (GDR), commonly known as East Germany (German: Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR) conducted a decades-long program of coercive administration and distribution of performance-enhancing drugs, such as testosterone and other anabolic steroids to its elite athletes for the purpose of bolstering the communist state's image and prestige by winning medals in international championships (such as the Olympics), known officially as State Plan 14.25.  The drug regimens, given either with or without the knowledge of the athletes, resulted in victories in international competitions, including the Olympic Games.  East Germany had been a pioneering state in doping, so much that it was considered to be the inventor of doping.
(Links omitted.)

When the doping was discovered, it was considered a great scandal; now the same actions are considered, by our "mainstream" journalists, to be just a part of "civil rights" and non-discrimination.

(Here are some pictures of what that testosterone did to the East German women.

For the record:  No, the treatments will not make Mack Beggs into a boy, nor will any amount of cosmetic surgery.  It is cruel to pretend otherwise.)
- 9:22 AM, 27 February 2017   [link]

Sometimes There Are Good Reasons to leave work early.
- 8:36 AM, 27 February 2017   [link]

Which Nation Is This?  Recently, in order to cope with a large number of illegal immigrants, this nation has:
  • Changed policies to make it easier to wiretap cellphones
  • Begun putting electronic bracelets on some illegal immigrants
  • Deported illegal immigrants en masse
  • Taken steps to speed up deportations
Sounds like that nation is getting tough, doesn't it?

So it may surprise you to learn that nation is Angela Merkel's Germany.

And, if you read the whole article, you will learn that other European nations are taking similar steps.

This toughening was inevitable, but it is unfortunate that it took so long for Chancellor Merkel — a very smart woman — to see what should have been obvious.
- 6:39 PM, 26 February 2017   [link]

Two Good Jokes From Two Amateurs:  When asked how relations with Mexico were, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said they were "phenomenal".

In his speech to CPAC, President Trump said:  "The era of empty talk is over."

We can be reasonably certain that Spicer was joking — and reasonably certain that Trump didn't realize he was telling a joke.
- 2:03 PM, 26 February 2017   [link]

Last Week's Collections Of Political Cartoons from Politico and RealClearPolitics.

I thought Politico's collection was funnier.

Oddly enough, both put one of my favorites, a Ramirez cartoon, at number 11 in their collections.
- 1:37 PM, 26 February 2017   [link]

Does The BBC Believe In Witchcraft?  Probably not, but it's hard to read this story without concluding that they hope this spell will work.
Most of Donald Trump's opponents believe they will have to wait four more years to see him leave the White House.

But America's witches are more optimistic.

At the stroke of midnight on Friday, followers of witchcraft across the US performed a mass spell designed to remove the president from office.
The BBC doesn't say whether Trump might have some witches working for him.
- 2:43 PM, 25 February 2017   [link]

This Conclusion About Opera seems plausible, but I don't know enough plots to be certain.
- 2:19 PM, 25 February 2017   [link]