Groundhog Day

We spent a very pleasant Sunday devouring Al Franken’s new book, Al Franken, Giant of the Senate. In it, Al Franken explains how he took Al Franken hostage to run for Senate, only to discover that Al Franken was in his heart all along. If you’ve been missing Al Franken, it turns out Al Franken never went away.

There’s a callback to his previous book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, which prompted us to relive the bygone days of 2003, when it was first published. And while wallowing in the nostalgia of John Ashcroft being a public figure, we stumbled across this passage:

“Those early months were heady days for George W. Bush. Emboldened by his landslide victory, Bush passed a $1.6 trillion tax cut which went primarily to the rich, pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, delayed rules that would reduce acceptable levels of arsenic in the drinking water, and implemented the enormously successful Operation Ignore.”

You might forgive us for wondering whether we’ve been actually waking up to Sonny & Cher the past five months.

The book itself remains remarkably (or sadly) relevant, describing the methods of what we used to charmingly call the Right Wing Attack Machine, whose partisans lie with total impunity and broad distribution, and whose politicians use every dirty trick in the book to throw elections.

The only difference we can discern is that the politician at the very top still felt compelled to appear above the fray, calling for healing the wounds that his minions were actively opening. It’s adorable he even bothered.

But as we were contemplating what general remarks we might wish to foist upon an unsuspecting public, the paragraph above stopped us in our tracks.

Why, our president today is promoting an enormous tax cut that will benefit the wealthy! (And kill the less wealthy in the process!) Our president today has announced a withdrawal from an international treaty on climate change! Our president today is dropping regulations that keep water safe! And our president today—

Well, maybe we need to explain that last one.

“Operation Ignore” is Franken’s blanket term for the Bush Administration’s initial inaction on terrorist policy. In Franken’s telling, the Clinton Administration had planned a thorough approach, approving the final draft just weeks before the 2001 inauguration. But rather than saddle their successors with a hot war, they just wrapped the plan in a bow and left it as a parting gift.

Which was then promptly ignored.

You might recall that there was a peculiar animus towards the outgoing administration from the incoming — just like today! — and the New Boss’s minions had their own ideas about things. A few holdovers kept pressing the grave urgency of their case, however, and finally got a warning through to the top.

That part you might also recall: “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US”.

Why, our president today is ignoring a foreign threat to America!

And we hope to god that’s the only one.

But the general point we were going to make before being interrupted by the Ghost of Calamity Past is that while today’s circumstances may be a wee more severe than in the recent past, there is nothing new about them.

Trump is not a Perfect Storm of unique conditions, but the inevitable result of conditions that have persisted twenty years on this accounting, or forty years if you care to trace it back to the rise of our last Teflon President.

And if you want to trace it back even farther, we won’t stop you.

There is nothing we can do about those conditions. They exploit a sick vein in our national life, one that preceded us, and should humanity survive, will outlast us.

But we can contain them, as we have also done in the recent past. Problem is, people often fail to exercise their one certain means of opposition. And as soon as we figure out how to get anyone other than Fox-addled retirees to vote in non-presidential elections, we’ll let you know.

20 comments:

1:32 am • Saturday • June 24, 2017

More early administration nostalgia fun! “The President’s interminable vacations…” Thank god all that is long behind us!

2:25 am • Saturday • June 24, 2017

@nojo:
Problem is that compared to lard ass brain dead Trump, W was a fucking workaholic.

1:58 pm • Saturday • June 24, 2017

@ManchuCandidate:laugh, shudder and cry

4:01 pm • Saturday • June 24, 2017

The WaPo had a fairly convincing op-ed on Friday that stated simply that Tdumbp never will be able to accomplish anything. He’s taken every position on every issue depending on the audience, and most of these positions are self-contradictory. This makes it impossible to craft a governing policy strategy, which is fine, since Tdumbp has no interest in policy and would rather spend his time sending twits or rabble-rousing at his Nazi rallies. That made me feel better, along with the fact that Mueller is making life for him and his repulsive supplicants pure hell.

4:30 pm • Saturday • June 24, 2017

@¡Andrew!: Trump will sign anything that reaches his desk, and while his incompetence bodes well for Evil Major Policy Initiatives, there’s still plenty of little shit getting through. I hope someone’s keeping a list of everything that needs to be fixed.

Also, rank hypocrisy isn’t a problem. Just lie again. It keeps working, so why not?

And then there’s the Poor Removal Act now being considered (if not debated) by the Senate. That shit might get through yet.

4:32 pm • Saturday • June 24, 2017

@nojo: With the grace of the FSM, 2018 will be the year that we defeat the Twitler/McCONnell/Lyin axis of evil.

5:41 pm • Saturday • June 24, 2017

Most Prescient 2003 Footnote Award:

“Here’s another link that you could click on if you were using some sort of hybrid book-computer.”

I’m reading it in iBooks, on my iPhone.

10:03 pm • Saturday • June 24, 2017

Make your next book “Those Angry Days” by Lynne Olson. Just to reassure yourself that yes, it does happen over and over in one form or another.

7:04 pm • Sunday • June 25, 2017

Happy Pride, everyone! (Warning: autoplay video). My family and I marched with my employer in the parade today. It def does one’s heart good to see hundreds of thousands of people letting their freak flags fly.

4:12 pm • Wednesday • June 28, 2017

Oh this is Not Good:

(Illegitimate) Gosuck’s First Anti-Gay Dissent Has a Huge Factual Error—and Terrible, Dishonest Logic

If I understand this correctly, the Trumpissts legal strategy will be to purposefully advance dishonest arguments with the goal of creating confusion and chaos over the actual meaning of court rulings. That will further wreck the public’s view of the legitimacy of the courts and undermine their authority.

4:50 pm • Wednesday • June 28, 2017

@¡Andrew!: Gorsuch is either stupid or devious, which is why Colorado’s Koch-sucking GOP senator so ardently supported his nomination.

As far as the underlying plot, if any, the Slate piece suggests he’s signaling to states how to pose a successful defense of legalized bias. This is less than a concerted effort to undermine the legitimacy of courts as such, but very much an activist use of the courts to achieve political ends.

5:08 pm • Thursday • June 29, 2017

No National Humiliations in: O Days

5:31 pm • Thursday • June 29, 2017

@¡Andrew!: Can I file for Citizens Comp?

11:14 am • Friday • June 30, 2017

Germany approved marriage equality today!

This is a BFD.

12:34 pm • Friday • June 30, 2017

@¡Andrew!: I’m surprised to hear they didn’t have it already, but either way, fuck yeah!

12:38 pm • Friday • June 30, 2017

@mellbell: They’d had separate but equal domestic partnerships since 2001. Congrats to the Germans, and what a fantastic way to close out Pride month. A win is a win, and FSM knows we all need some good news these days.

Hopefully this will prod Australia to do the same. They’re in a similar political situation, with a conservative PM refusing to allow a conscience vote on marriage equality even though LGBTQ+ couples have 80%ish support.

12:47 pm • Friday • June 30, 2017

People from the 1940s would be completely mindfucked to know that in 2017 we’re praying desperately for the Germans to save us from the psychopathic fascists that’ve seized control of the US government.

1:47 pm • Friday • June 30, 2017

@¡Andrew!: I studied abroad in Germany 60 years after WWII and my stepmom’s mom (a nurse in the Pacific theater) still warned me to watch out for those Germans.

2:07 pm • Friday • June 30, 2017

@mellbell: Coming from the Pacific theater, I’m curious whether she made peace with our other opponents.

2:33 pm • Friday • June 30, 2017

@nojo: I imagine her warning would have been stronger had it been Kyoto instead of Freiburg. That being said, I never heard her speak ill of the Japanese.

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