The Trump Transformation

Ronald Reagan was a transformational president. He made cutthroat conservatism sunny and acceptable. The government isn’t going to do a damned thing for you. No one is going to do a damned thing for you, and you don’t have to do a damned thing for anyone else either. You’re on your own. Everyone is – and government is never the solution to anything. Government is always the problem. That’s freedom. Rejoice.

That changed things, and Barack Obama wanted to change things back. Obama once said he wanted to be a transformational president just like Ronald Reagan, but in the other direction. America is a community. There are no red states. There are no blue states. There is only the United States of America. Americans look out for each other – they have each other’s backs – and “their” government can help out. In fact, government really isn’t the problem. It’s a tool of the people to make their lives better. They can say what it does. That was, he said, the whole idea of America – but Obama wasn’t a transformational president. He couldn’t undo what Reagan had done. And he was black. He had to be cautious. He couldn’t be too uppity – so he did what he could. His eight-year presidency was a demonstration project. The centerpiece was Obamacare. As flawed as that was, this was the sort of thing the government could do, in a shared way, to make everyone’s lives better. No one should lose everything because they got sick. Americans have each other’s backs.

That infuriated Reagan Republicans. That wasn’t freedom, and this isn’t settled:

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she would support repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance mandate, giving a potential boost to the Republican effort to pass a massive tax cut package next week.

“I believe that the federal government should not force anyone to buy something they do not wish to buy, in order to avoid being taxed,” Murkowski wrote in an opinion piece published Tuesday by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Senate Republicans’ plan to rewrite the tax code includes a provision to repeal the individual mandate, a part of the 2010 health-care law that requires almost all Americans to have some form of health insurance or pay a fine.

Republicans may now pass their massive tax cut package, but this would destroy Obamacare. Unless everyone buys in, creating a large shared-risk poll, Obamacare collapses. There’d never be enough money to cover those who get sick, or hit by a bus, or whatever. Premiums would skyrocket for those who need to buy insurance, if those who don’t need insurance, at the moment, walk away – but that’s pure Reagan. You’re on your own. Everyone is – and government is never the solution to anything. Obama didn’t transform Lisa Murkowski.

As for the Republican tax cut package, there’s Greg Sargent:

The fate of the Senate GOP tax plan now rests in the hands of a few undecided Republican senators, and next week, they will make up their minds. But a new nonpartisan analysis of the plan will make it much, much harder for them to embrace it – or at least it should, if their stated principles mean anything at all.

Here is the key takeaway from the new analysis, which is the work of the Tax Policy Center: By 2027, around 50 percent of taxpayers will see a tax hike. The whole purpose of this tax increase is to make it possible for Senate Republicans to pass a tax cut that overwhelmingly benefits the very wealthiest taxpayers – on party lines, without any Democrats.

The rest of this is charts and tables and graphs and wonky analysis, but it’s all pure Reagan. Cut taxes. That’s freedom – freedom from government messing things up, with money that real people know better how to use, because it’s their money, not the government’s money. But someone has to make up the difference in revenue. Someone has to pay the bills to keep the government running. Half of all taxpayers will see a tax hike. Half of all American taxpayers aren’t major Republican donors. There’s nothing new here.

Reagan wins. Obama loses. But what about Donald Trump? He seems indifferent to these battles. He just wants a win. He promised to build that wall, and that Mexico would pay for it. He promised the immediate repeal of Obamacare, replaced by something wonderful. He promised massive tax cuts, but that is getting too damned complicated. He’s getting frustrated. He no longer cares. Any tax bill will do.

Donald Trump doesn’t seem to care about being a transformational president. He just wants to be a winner, but he may be the next transformational president. He may change America forever. Minorities had better watch out. Gays had better watch out. Women had better watch out. It’s now a man’s world and he has the white nationalists on his side.

The battles have begun:

A conference organized by white nationalist Richard Spencer was shut down after the owners of the Maryland venue hosting it realized who their customers were.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that about 100 people attended the weekend conference at Rocklands Farm in Montgomery County.

Spencer told the newspaper the venue was booked through a third-party logistics company that didn’t reveal white nationalists were affiliated.

A statement on the farm’s website says when the attendees’ identity came to light they were asked to leave and did so peacefully.

This is just a curious little AP wire story, but for this:

The farm hadn’t been Spencer’s first choice. The group booked the space after being turned away from a federal facility in Washington.

Spencer has advocated for a white ethno-state and took part in this summer’s violent rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Charlottesville showed how Trump seems to want to transform America. There were “fine people” marching alongside the neo-Nazi white nationalists and white supremacists in Charlottesville. They were just proud to be white, and liked their heritage, and liked those “beautiful” old statues of Robert E. Lee – words that Trump took back, and then said he never should have taken back. Richard Spencer was also a mentor to Stephen Miller – Trump’s young political advisor – the guy who wrote Trump’s Warsaw speech. At the time, Peter Beinart noted the racial and religious paranoia of Trump’s Warsaw speech:

The most shocking sentence in Trump’s speech – perhaps the most shocking sentence in any presidential speech delivered on foreign soil in my lifetime – was his claim that “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.” On its face, that’s absurd. Jihadist terrorists can kill people in the West, but unlike Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, they cannot topple even the weakest European government. Jihadists control no great armies. Their ideologies have limited appeal even among the Muslims they target with their propaganda. ISIS has all but lost Mosul and could lose Raqqa later this year.

Trump’s sentence only makes sense as a statement of racial and religious paranoia.

That may transform America. Donald Trump seems to be working on uniting the country against Muslims – and “Mexicans” too – and those Black Lives Matter thugs, who want to kill policemen, and against Colin Kaepernick – and against gays too – and urban hipsters and scientists and so on and so forth.

That means the battles will continue:

President Donald Trump’s latest executive order aimed at implementing the hardline immigration policies he championed during his campaign has been blocked by a federal court.

US District Court Judge William Orrick issued a permanent injunction Monday blocking Trump’s executive order seeking to strip so-called sanctuary cities of federal funding.

The ruling represents a major setback to the administration’s attempts to clamp down on cities, counties and states that seek to protect undocumented immigrants who come in contact with local law enforcement from deportation by federal authorities.

The ruling was also the latest instance in which a federal judge has stood in the way of Trump’s effort to implement his hardline policies immigration, joining rulings that have blocked different portions of Trump’s travel ban and preliminary injunctions on the sanctuary cities order.

The ruling was simple. Congress authorized specific federal funding, by law, and Trump can’t just take that away:

Those fighting the executive order celebrated the decision Monday. “This is a victory for the American people and the rule of law,” San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement. “This executive order was unconstitutional before the ink on it was even dry. We live in a democracy. No one is above the law, including the president.”

Donald Trump may want to unite the country against “Mexicans” – to inflame white outrage at “the other” – but there are those not ready for that particular transformation – or for this:

A second federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s proposed ban on transgender troops Tuesday, saying President Trump’s announcement of the ban in a series of tweets this summer was “capricious, arbitrary, and unqualified.”

In a preliminary injunction, Judge Marvin J. Garbis of the Federal District Court for Maryland halted a policy that would have discharged all current transgender troops and barred prospective ones from enlisting, saying it likely violated equal protection provisions of the Constitution.

Judge Garbis’ 53-page order went further than a similar ruling last month by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, which also said the ban likely violated the Constitution. “There is absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effective on the military at all,” the ruling said.

In short, let them be – and then there is that DACA business – the fate of those brought here as children that Trump wants gone – the Dreamers as they’re called.

That will be a battle too:

Concern is growing in both parties that a clash over the fate of Dreamers will trigger a government shutdown this December.

House conservatives have warned Speaker Paul Ryan against lumping a fix for undocumented immigrants who came to the country as minors into a year-end spending deal. They want him to keep the two issues separate and delay immigration negotiations into 2018 to increase their leverage – which both Ryan and the White House consider reasonable.

That may not work out:

Many liberal Democrats have already vowed to withhold votes from the spending bill should it not address Dreamers, putting Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York in an awkward spot if they don’t go along.

Democrats know Republicans need their votes to fund the government past the current Dec. 8 deadline, and many want Pelosi and Schumer to stand firm against the must-pass bill until leaders save the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“We want a clean DREAM Act,” said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), referring to legislation that provides a pathway to citizenship for the young adults. “That is what it’s going to take for me and others to sign on.”

Ryan (R-Wis.), Pelosi, Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are already discussing a short-term government-funding extension to buy themselves more time to negotiate, likely culminating in a Christmastime collision.

Trump may want to inflame white outrage at “the other” – but there’s outrage on the other side. Trump hasn’t turned America into an angry straight white nationalist paradise quite yet. On the other hand, this could be transformational:

The Federal Communications Commission took aim at a signature Obama-era regulation Tuesday, unveiling a plan that would give Internet providers broad powers to determine what websites and online services their customers see and use.

Under the agency’s proposal, providers of high-speed Internet services, such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, would be able to block websites they do not like and charge Web companies for speedier delivery of their content.

The FCC’s effort would roll back its net neutrality regulation which was passed by the agency’s Democrats in 2015 and attempted to make sure all Web content, whether from big or small companies, would be treated equally by Internet providers.

This is an interesting idea. This would allow internet providers to actively discriminate against small companies that can’t afford to pay special fees for good service – so there’d be no point in even starting a new small business – the cost of a new business website that was “visible” could run tens of thousands of dollars a month. Don’t even try – so large corporations would have no pesky competition. And internet providers could block selected news sites – all but Fox News for example – no one would ever see any of that “fake news” that pisses off Donald Trump ever again – or internet providers could go the other way, maybe, but probably not.

And who would have a choice? Most areas don’t have any real competition. You sign up with your local cable company, and that’s pretty much it. If some small sites don’t seem to work very well, you’ll probably shrug and just figure that they aren’t very good. And even if you figure out that Comcast is deliberately screwing with them, there isn’t much you can do about it. And forget about hitting the Washington Post or New York Times or CNN websites. Team Trump is pretty damned clever. This will be transformational.

But the real transformation may be this:

President Trump broke with leading Republicans on Tuesday and voiced support for Roy S. Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama who has been accused of sexual misconduct with teenagers and has seen his campaign’s prospects imperiled.

In his first extensive remarks on the accusations that date back decades, the president cited the vigorous denials by Mr. Moore, who is facing off in a high-stakes special election against Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate.

“He totally denies it,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Moore, who has been accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl and sexually assaulting another teenager.

That doesn’t seem to matter:

Asked by a reporter about whether electing “a child molester” was better than electing a Democrat in the Alabama race, Mr. Trump responded by insisting that Mr. Moore denies the charges against him.

“He says it didn’t happen,” the president – who himself has been accused of, and denied, a history of sexual impropriety – told reporters at the White House. “You have to listen to him, also.”

It’s the same with Vladimir Putin. Putin denies he and the Russians did anything at all to mess with our last election. Trump has repeatedly said that you have to listen to him too – but the transformation of America is clear enough in this case. The president really did say that electing “a child molester” was better than electing a Democrat, so everyone will have to make the appropriate adjustments:

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin said last week that the accusations against Mr. Moore were credible, and called for him to abandon his campaign. Other senators have warned that Mr. Moore could be expelled if he were to be elected in the Dec. 12 vote.

But Mr. Trump set aside those concerns and suggested that a victory by Mr. Jones would jeopardize an agenda that the president’s administration was already struggling to advance. Referring to some of the issues that Alabama voters prize, Mr. Trump attacked Mr. Jones, a former federal prosecutor in Birmingham who is now leading Mr. Moore in some polls that were taken after the misconduct accusations surfaced nearly two weeks ago.

“We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones,” Mr. Trump said. “I’ve looked at his record. It’s terrible on crime. It’s terrible on the border. It’s terrible on the military.”

That’s disputable, but it doesn’t matter:

The president suggested that the passage of time, and the fact that Mr. Moore’s accusers did not come forward earlier, should call into question the accusations.

Women lie. It happens. Time will tell. So make the appropriate adjustments. But that might be difficult:

Mr. Jones is scrambling to ensure that Alabamians do not forget the controversy. On Tuesday, his campaign repeatedly aired a new television ad featuring recent comments from Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter, who said that she had “no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts” and that “there’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children.”

Mr. McConnell has called on Mr. Moore to step aside as a candidate, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee has severed ties with Mr. Moore, saying it would no longer raise money for his campaign.

Trump will have to have a long talk with his daughter. Honey, women lie. They all do. Everyone knows this. And there are things more important than child molestation.

Ivanka will come around. She’ll be transformed. Perhaps we’ll all be transformed.

Alex Isenstadt reports that Trump was transformed:

President Donald Trump’s near-endorsement of Alabama Republican Roy Moore followed days of behind-the-scenes talks in which he vented about Moore’s accusers and expressed skepticism about their accounts.

During animated conversations with senior Republicans and White House aides, the president said he doubted the stories presented by Moore’s accusers and questioned why they were emerging now, just weeks before the election, according to two White House advisers and two other people familiar with the talks.

The White House advisers said the president drew parallels between Moore’s predicament and the one he faced just over a year ago when, during the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, Trump confronted a long line of women who accused him of harassment. He adamantly denied the claims.

The president’s private sentiments broke into the open Tuesday when Trump all but declared he believed Moore’s denials.

That was the realization. All those women lied about him. All these women must be lying about Judge Moore. It was the same thing, or there was a bit more to it:

Trump’s embrace of Moore is shaped by a variety of factors, advisers say, including his long-running reluctance to antagonize his conservative base, much of which is sticking with Moore. And, with Moore refusing to exit the race, advisers say the president saw little upside to aligning himself against him.

He has also come to identify with the candidate. Trump has long viewed the tumultuous final month of the 2016 campaign as a critical moment in his political rise, when it became apparent who in the Republican Party was with him and who wasn’t. As establishment Republicans withdrew their support for Moore in recent days, one senior White House official said, the president remembered that many of those same figures abandoned him, too.

That was another motivation – screw those establishment Republicans. Trump would transform all of American politics. He’d be beyond both parties. He is now, but CNN’s Jeff Zeleny sees something else at play:

President Donald Trump’s decision to embrace Roy Moore on Tuesday was rooted in several factors, but one of the biggest: the noise and confusion from a recent tidal wave of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations from Hollywood to media to politics.

“It made it easier and easier to stick with Moore,” a Republican source close to the White House said.

That is, America had already been transformed, with molesters everywhere:

The President’s South Lawn remarks before taking off for Mar-a-Lago, while impromptu, also reflect precisely what he has been arguing in the West Wing for the last few days: Moore is denying the charges. He isn’t wavering. So who are we to try and step in?

Two Republicans familiar with the President’s thinking offered that explanation about his comments. They added that the conversation has dramatically changed since November 9, when The Washington Post broke the news of the allegations against Moore. Then, it was simply one bad actor – a Republican.

“Since then, it’s become much harder to tell who the bad guy is,” said a Republican close to the White House, noting that the allegations against Democratic Sen. Al Franken, the renewed chatter about Bill Clinton, the explosive revelations about legacy newsman Charlie Rose and the suspension of New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush were all developments the President was following closely.

That made sense. Everyone was doing it. Roy Moore was nothing special. America should get over it.

That’s how things change. Ronald Reagan was a transformational president. Barack Obama tried to be a transformational president but all of that was temporary. Donald Trump may be the real transformational president, and America may never be the same. Despair might be appropriate.

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About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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One Response to The Trump Transformation

  1. Rick says:

    Breaking news! This just in! Trump changes his mind again on Moore!

    In a stunning reversal this morning, President Trump says he has now listened a little closer to what Roy Moore’s accusers have been saying, and has withdrawn his support for Moore in the upcoming special election.

    “She totally denies it,” Mr. Trump said of Leigh Corfman, who has insisted she isn’t lying about being molested as a 14-year-old girl by then 32-year-old Moore.

    “She says it absolutely did happen,” the president told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla. where he is spending his five-day Thanksgiving vacation. “You have to listen to her, also.”

    Asked by a reporter about whether he worried about Alabama electing “a liberal Democrat” to the senate, Mr. Trump responded by insisting, “Hey, this isn’t about politics, it’s about morality, and about doing the right thing for a change!”

    “After all,” he continued, “what does this say about Alabama that they can’t find just one measly Republican senator to send to Washington that isn’t a child molester?”

    When asked how he feels about Doug Jones, Moore’s Democratic opponent, possibly winning the election, Mr. Trump replied, “What’s the big deal? He’s not such a bad guy!

    “A lot of people don’t know this, but as United States Attorney, Jones prosecuted two Ku Klux Klan bombers of a church that killed four innocent little African-American girls!”

    “And,” he added, “as far as I know, at least nobody’s accused Doug Jones of molesting little girls!”

    The president later announced he was ceasing his attacks on his former political opponent, Hillary Clinton, after hearing she has denied any wrongdoing in her use of emails as Secretary of State, her handling of Benghazi, and allegations that she gave uranium to Russia.

    “Somebody recently asked her about all those things,” the president said, “and she denied it! And by the way, she totally denied it! You have to listen to her, also.”

    Okay, none of that’s true. It’s all fake news. You knew that, right?

    Still, for just one moment, it felt strangely calming to forget what a jerk the guy is in real life, and to imagine him being one of the good guys.

    Rick

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