2017 Politics open thread, April 2-8

Donald Trump Racks Up Few Wins So Far
As president’s poll numbers crater, strategists say White House needs victories to shore up nascent administration

Trump needs more “winning”?


38 thoughts on “2017 Politics open thread, April 2-8

  1. Ross Douthat, in today’s column, thinks that Trump is even more stupid and incompetent than he had imagined.

    I am kind of glad he is incompetent, because if he was stupid and competent, it would be really scary.

  2. Depends if it makes him easier for Bannon to manipulate.

    But in today’s tweets, he’s threatening to work with the Democrats! What could possibly go wrong?

  3. Rhett, and others, have you found Randy Rainbow yet? Check on youtube. Google his name, and then my recent faves are “Microwaves (are watching you)”, “Putin and the Ritz”, and “Factchecker”. He’s like an angry, gay Weird Al with an awesome singing voice.

  4. I’m sure Trump is doing this all by his gut. That’s what his supporters want, not cerebral prowess, and he will be able to use press coverage of his failures to whip them up in a few years. I still cannot see how his actively encouraging a world where “strong” means finding weakness to take advantage of, but it clearly works for him.

    Here’s a case stemming from research by an American Studies prof, who also researched the infection of Tuskegee Airmen with Syphilis. There was an inquiry into it under Obama. While we may have sufficient laws and research practices in place to prevent this kind of thing from happening again, actively seeking to compensate people who were so weak as to be used in this research is not something this pres would see as “winning”.

    Getting consent–actual, real consent–costs money, as does compensating victims in appalling cases like this. As much as I think high profit margins in health care are wrong, I see this as a legitimate reason for drug research to be expensive.


    The suit also claims that predecessor companies of the pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb supplied penicillin for use in the experiments, which they knew to be both secretive and non-consensual.

    The experiments, which occurred between 1945 and 1956, were kept secret until they were discovered in 2010 by a college professor, Susan Reverby. The programme published no findings and did not inform Guatemalans who were infected of the consequences of their participation, nor did it provide them with follow up medical care or inform them of ways to prevent the infections spreading, the lawsuit states.

    Orphans, prisoners and mental health patients were deliberately infected in the experiments.

  5. By 2015, Ms. Pavlic was supporting her husband and their three children on an annual salary of $9,000, earned at a restaurant.

    It’s hard to fathom how these people manage to live.

  6. Not to worry. Trump couldn’t even get the healthcare repeal through after they had voted dozens of times to repeal it. He is a crappy deal maker and his budget won’t get through. And Tim Ryan will make sure his constituents get some welfare. He knows where his bread is buttered.

  7. As I read that NYT article, the list of programs it mentions astounds me. I’m sure they are all beneficial (and I’d like to think there’s a minimum of fraud) to the intended recipients. What popped up in my mind is the idea that given there are this many programs, probably not an exhaustive list, in just the housing arena, how many other programs are there to support other areas of the economy (think of the social-benefit roles of cabinet secretaries), how much do they cost in both direct benefits and administration? I’m not even including healthcare/social security in this mix. Maybe a guaranteed minimum income based on family size isn’t such a bad idea at all.

  8. Fred,

    Thing that struck me is the very very low incomes. One suggestion you often here is that these people should move. But at $9k a year, coming up with the money to move is impossible.

  9. I’ve long thought that people who are eligible for unemployment should be eligible for a substantial moving allowance, probably in addition to unemployment and not taxed as income. Because unemployment is a state program, a moving allowance is really complicated to administer and might need to involve direct reimbursement to providers (moving and packing companies) with the understanding that they will also have costs to drive their moving trucks back, ’cause almost nobody will be moving TO these economically disadvantaged areas.

    Growing up where unemployment hit ~20% in the early ’80’s, and virtually everyone in some fields (welders, machinists) was laid off, I am sympathetic to the problem and have thought a lot about it.

    If government is going to be the country’s most stable employer (healthcare, education), we need some way to level the playing field for people who accept the economic instability risk resulting from free trade.

  10. That county in Ohio is probably as inexpensive as it gets anyway.

  11. One of my SIL’s husbands was from a shack in Kentucky. He grew up without running water. They trapped rabbits for food. It’s kind of like the people in Appalachia have lost the skills necessary for subsistence living, but haven’t gained the skills necessary for living in an industrialized country.

  12. but haven’t gained the skills necessary for living in an industrialized country.

    Many have, they just leave as soon as they do.

  13. RMS, my National Guard acquaintance made the same observation about people in western Louisiana bayous vs. New Orleans during his hurricane support stints during/after Katrina. In western Louisiana, he said he was mostly an insulin delivery service.

  14. I actually really like WCE’s idea (okay, not so surprising, I’m always in favor of new taxes and government programs!)

    I think the idea is not to move them to a LCOL area (because $36/sqft!), but to move them to a LCOL area with a labor shortage.

  15. RMS, I knew people who had grown up like that too. But eastern KY was a basketcase even when people did know how to skin rabbits. Why do you think it was the poster child for the War on Poverty (well, of course they were white too)?
    And there has been extreme social dysfunction in those counties as long as I can remember.

  16. One summer I briefly dated a guy who did know how to skin rabbits, and came from aforementioned shack. His folks had recently moved at some point to the city where I lived. He was a nice guy but had extreme problems with depression. Back in his home county, he had found the body of a friend of his, killed assasination style over a drug dealing dispute (back then eastern KY was a big pot exporting area). I once went over to his apartment where he lived with his folks, and quickly realized they were heroin addicts. This stuff is not new to places like eastern KY

  17. So who is the mastermind behind all of this Russia stuff? It is very clear that Trump is too stupid and could never pull this off. Is it Bannon? Someone else? The Prince/DeVos family is nuts.

  18. So what are folks thinking about the Susan Rice story? Depending on the news outlet there is either a smoking gun or nothing to see here….

  19. I feel like I am missing something but I do not understand the big deal with Susan Rice. She would have had the authority to unmask the names of people who were incidentally caught up in the surveillance (and often times that happens to better understand what is going on). As long as she didn’t leak the names (and to my knowledge there is no evidence that she did), this is pretty routine stuff.

  20. I think the entire controversy is generated by the word “unmasked”. It’s so Batman, or Zorro. I though Vox’s article was reasonable.

  21. I’ve started following some former intelligence community people on Twitter, and they claim the unmasking is routine and part of the job, while being sure to note that she is unilaterally despised and considered incompetent by people who know the job. So if there was something there, they imply they’d be happy to see her outed. Based on that, I give more weight to the nothing-there stories.

    I am happy to see Bannon off the NSC. I hope that is a sign that more conservative leadership is on the horizon. I’m a little worried we’re going to nuke North Korea in the middle of the night.

  22. My problem with her story is that she stated one thing on PBS and then to clarify she went on MSNBC and was lobbed not even softballs but foam balls. The media biases seem so deep now.

  23. Interesting article on Utah and how it differs from DC/NY, according to the reporter who wrote the article. Favorite quote:
    “The vast welfare infrastructure from the Mormon Church naturally makes it easier to have smaller government. Perhaps that could be replicated by other communities. But the values of the Mormon Church may create a public that simply needs less help. That’s harder for another community to imitate. I’m not sure this key ingredient is available in a secular version; I think religion might only come in religion flavor. How the heck is some state government supposed to get people to marry, and stay married?”


  24. I’ve read that Obama sought Congressional approval for similar action in similar circumstances back in 2013. Is that still in effect?

    I’m concerned about getting drawn into yet another war without an endgame or clear plan.

  25. As far as I can tell, we’re in the same situation vis-à-vis Syria that we’ve always been: Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

  26. RMS exactly. A number of years ago, my work held a retreat at the JFK Museum and we got to go through the exhibits. There was a recorded interview of JFK talking about the Middle East and the same problems/answers hold true for today. This problem has been going on for a long time and I don’t see a solution to it.

    The Economist podcast interviewed John McCain this week and he made a point that when the US leaves a vacuum in Global leadership, which he believes Obama did, there will be really negative results. He is blaming the civil war and refugee crisis on the lack of US involvement for the last 8 years. I think it is not necessarily that simple but I do think he had some valid points if you listen to the interview.

  27. Used to Lurk, I agree with the vacuum theory. Since WW II, we’ve been the world’s policeman, and Great Britain was before that. The extent to which the U.S., or any country, has a moral obligation to sacrifice (people and money in the form of defense dollars) to support the human rights of people in other countries is unclear. This is old but it obviously stays with me.


  28. “That’s what the Mormon approach to support avoids. It gets people back on their feet and connects them with their communities. ”

    By “their communities” they mean “their Stakehose [Mormon church]”. This article is entirely unclear on the point, but these welfare services are restricted to members of the church. This is not the Salvation Army – you don’t get a cot and a bowl of soup in exchange for a little sermon here or there. If you are not a member of the church, you will be turned away. The church is promoting and protecting its own interests – let us not think that they are indiscriminately helping needing folks. Also not clear in the article – all Mormon missions are for proselytizing. There is no building schools or digging wells – except in the service of telling the story of Joseph Smith.

  29. I am originally from another country and have friends living in different parts of the world. I can ensure you that not many people outside of this country see the US as being the sacrificial lamb. Whether it is true or not, the US is perceived as the global bully who tells other peoples how to live their lives, meddles in the internal business of sovereign countries uninvited and overall heavy-handedly handles other nations.
    There’s a resentment towards us because of our intervention abroad, which are being viewed as being done only for furthering the economic prosperity of Americans (oil, trade, future favors). At the same time when Obama was using drones and missles without committing to more troupes abroad I read articles asking why we are not getting more heavily engaged. Which baffled me. I have come to the conclusion that some parts of the world want the US to be the global policeman but also want to continue blaming us for being greedy and complaining about our role.

  30. TDH – . I have come to the conclusion that some parts of the world want the US to be the global policeman but also want to continue blaming us for being greedy and complaining about our role.

    I couldn’t agree more with your statement above.

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