Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cowardice? Misinformation?

     Magical thinking?  I want to know what the overlap is between the people who were convinced President Obama "could do more about guns" as in gun control but for some reason wasn't, and the people who are professing abject fear at what President-elect Trump is going to do to their own "community" or some other group once he takes office.

     Dammit, that's not how it works.  Presidents do not have all that much of that kind of power.  In addition, the inertia of the Federal bureaucracy is simply mind-boggling, and not for lack of trying: they really do have to do obsessive dotting of "i"s and crossing of "t"s and painfully-detailed bookkeeping in order to keep the behemoth staggering along.  Remember reading about FDR having the Japanese-Americans rounded up and put in camps during WW II?  Ain't ever gonna happen again; the war'd be over before they'd set up a committee to generate the form to fill out (in multiple copies) to establish the office to hire the people to make the lists to hand to the cops to go around door to door and start rounding people up.

     I never thought of the U.S. Constitution as being particularly abstruse but it might as well be written in Latin on bronze tablets buried inaccessibly beneath the Washington Monument for all the understanding of it many people are presently showing.

     U.S. Presidents aren't magical -- they are not magical good and they're not magical evil.  Oh, they try sneaky stuff, each and every one of them, and you can thank the vast, slow morass of the for most of the corner-cutting tricks they try; but they get caught at it with monotonous regularity and the more visible their target, the more quickly they get caught -- and, usually, stopped.

     As a general rule, Republicans get a fishier eyeballing from the press than Democrats.  That's just how it goes; reporters tend to lean that direction and no matter how even-handed they set out to be (and some don't), it's the stuff that gets under a person's skin that gets reported on.

     I don't think Mr. Trump is a saint.  I think he has the attention span of a housefly and he appears to have the social graces of a tipsy carny.  I'm leery of many of his political associates.  But I know he's being watched by people eager to catch him putting a foot wrong, and not merely the easy "gotcha" journalism of finding crass comments made into live mics -- there's a whole press corps out there, looking for Watergate-level skullduggery.

     And yet there are people quaking in their boots over him, anticipating wickedness on a grandiose scale.  Gotta tellya, I don't think he's up to it.  I know he couldn't get away with it.  The United States has been lurching along with Presidents who were messed-up enough to want the lousy job for a very long time now, and the checks and balances do a fine job of keeping Congress and President and Supreme Court busy trying to throttle one another.

     I still think we'd've been better off with Gary Johnson in the White House.  But noooo, the majority never wanted a free-trade hippie, especially a slightly silly one.  Okay; we've got what we got, and somewhere offstage, H. L. Mencken is snickering at members of both major parties.  Don't give his ghost reason to snicker at you.


Jay Dee said...

Yeah but the presstitutes will have to do better than going into hysterics about lack of transparency because the president elect had the temerity of slipping out the back door with his family to a local restaurant. Keep this up and we'll all be tuning into officially designated fake news sites for the real news.

Anonymous said...

As usual, excellent write-up. The other thing about bureaucracies is that their Prime Directive is always self-preservation. Trump has threatened that. Whether he intends to even try to make good on that is yet to be seen. If he does, he will not only have to contend with the plodding incompetence you describe, but he will have to deal with malicious incompetence. Anything he tries to do will get the Veterans' Affairs treatment (i.e. "we'll keep sitting on/misfiling/shredding your request until you die or get tired of requesting.") The red-stapler guys know they can't be fired, and they don't really care how many times you replace the head of the agency.

One of Johnson's major problem was that he couldn't articulate basic libertarian principles. Some examples: guns (more government/AWB*), climate change (more government*), wars in the Middle East**. You must first be able to convince other libertarians you would be for smaller government before trying to convince the populace at large. Sadly, I doubt that would've helped in the long run, as the real problem is that most Americans are wedded to the idea of making "them" live like "us." To the average American, true individual liberty is akin to division by zero.

The interesting part is that the pendulum swings keep getting harder and harder. Between that, the vitriol, and the dwindling sense of community, I don't like the direction we're headed. The good news is that this country didn't become great because a bunch of people sat on their butts and waited for Washington to make it happen. Time to get out there and make each our parts of the world a little bit better. Thanks for doing your part.


* Yes, he later walked these back, but everybody knows politicians REALLY mean what they say before they get the "what I really meant to say" part.

** I'm not talking about the Aleppo question, where there was no context in the interview to indicate an abrupt shift of topic to the Middle East.

Anonymous said...

We're better off without Hillary Clinton having control of the Justice and Treasury Departments, and there wasn't much likelyhood that a vote for a pot smoking goofball was going to stop that. I agree with you about the scrutiny part, the scrutiny has been mysteriously dormant for eight years, but it ought to spin up again now. Funny how that works. The IRS is still acting against TEA party groups, by the way, that hasn't been getting much scrutiny.

Monty James

azmountaintroll said...

The circumstances that made the internment of the Japanese possible are highly unlikely to occur again. Most of the enforcement was carried out by State and local officials in a state of panic. Action at the Federal level was mostly about setting up and running the camps themselves, using the labor camps of the Civilian Conservation Corps as a model. While FEMA does have the ability to set up refugee camps in a crisis, there's simply no way they could force people into them, let alone keep them there, without the cooperation of the local authorities. And people aren't nearly as cooperative with the Feds as they used to be, for some reason.

Paul said...

I'm pretty sure if your guy got the coverage of Trump he would lose his luster as well. I only had to read a little of his position to know Johnson is bug nuts. His only good quality is he is not as venally evil and corrupt as Clinton. Mostly because he has never been close enough to the big levers.

No, Trump for all his flaws was the best choice. And it looks like enough other people agreed with me that he got elected.

Now we must wait and see.

Roberta X said...

"...Johnson is bug nuts..." That's so funny -- you write as if the other choices weren't. You write as if it mattered. Wrong, wrong.

But he wasn't "my guy," he was my choice for "least bad" and he can be as nutty as he likes as long as he recognizes the strict limits of the powers of the President and works to make government smaller and less rights-violating. The other three, including the winner, most certainly will not.

Mr. Trump was a lousy choice. Ms. Clinton was, IMO, slightly worse.

JayNola said...

Let's face it, anyone who willingly runs for public office has something wrong with them.
Next time lets go with a voter registry, a magic eight ball, and a dart board. Primary them and then have the main event. Make it happen between 4th of July and election day the year of. Overall quality probably won't diminish much.