Another week of the Trumpster Fire, another week of news from a fire hose, and another week during which we, as news consumers, are required to filter wheat from chaff, and the relevant from the nearly irrelevant. What things bumping in the night should be attended to? Which can be set off to the side and safely ignored for the moment.
Bumps With More Noise Than Significance
Preliminary public polling results. The Press/Media is enamored of the latest rendition of The Great Blue Wave. This is one of the least informative ways of filling one’s air-time. First, national preference polling is interesting, but all elections are local. While some members of the punditry are beginning to mouth the words “vote suppression,” and “gerrymandering,” not enough information and analysis has been shared about the effects of these GOP efforts to maintain control of the Congress, and of state elections. Secondly, there are no national elections for Congressional seats — to state the perfectly obvious. Those elections will be determined by candidate recruitment and quality, personnel and monetary resources, and campaign competence. None of these, with the possible exception of shared mailing lists and big donors (monetary resources) is national in scope. Third, some campaigns will be assisted by the efforts of third party groups. For example, are Union members out canvassing? Are students out doing registration drives? Are small groups of activists providing services like rides to the polls? The extent and nature of these ancillary groups and their activities will have an impact, we just don’t know the extent to date. None of this will be “news” to anyone who’s been paying attention to American civic life for the last few decades.
Just because it’s on the news doesn’t necessarily mean it’s important. The occupant of the Oval Office and some members of the media are still playing the DC parlor game, “Who is Anonymous?” Or anonomus or anamonomous or whatever. I’m still working on why this might be important. For my money we still have staff in the executive branch who are willing to explode the national debt in service to tax cuts for the top 0.01% of American income earners, at ease with putting 12,000 children in “detention” facilities for an indefinite period, and quite pleased to allow health insurance companies to charge people with pre-existing medical conditions more for their premiums. That these people will occasionally arise on their hind legs and proclaim the Great One has gone too far doesn’t impress me. What would impress me?
How about more attention paid to this nugget:
“Besides family, one of the only people Trump continues to trust is Stephen Miller. “The op-ed has validated Miller’s view, which was also Steve Bannon’s, that there’s an ‘administrative state’ out to get Trump,” a Republican close to the White House said. “There is a coup, and it’s not slow-rolling or concealed,” Bannon told me. “Trump believes there’s a coup,” a person familiar with his thinking said.”
And thus our Oval Office Occupant (Or Triple Zero if spelled 0val 0ffice 0ccupant) is more heavily reliant on a blatantly racist, far right wing conspiracy fabulist, who stokes the Occupant’s most divisive tendencies? This seems to call for more analysis, and yet the punditry still grasps the Who-Done-It? segment, or pontificates upon the “effect” of the infamous Op-Ed on the President’s “mind set.” Clue number one a White Nationalist was influencing the 000 might have been the initial Muslim ban? More clues — no DACA agreement by Congressional Democrats was ever going to be satisfactory — no one ‘would care’ that there might be children separated from their parents at the southern border — it’s considered acceptable to move funds from FEMA and the Coast Guard to pay for more ICE detention facilities — it’s supposed to be all right for asylum seeking families to be kept in these detention facilities indefinitely?
Things Not Making So Much Noise But Nevertheless Important
Health care and health insurance. There is nothing the GOP would enjoy so much as repealing the last semi-colon and comma of the Affordable Care Act. We’ve heard the “more competition” argument currently coming from the House Speaker before. It doesn’t make any more sense now than it did then. Health insurance is not a product analogous to purchasing a motor vehicle or any other consumer product. One doesn’t choose to get hit by a bus, or hit with a cancer diagnosis, or hit with a complicated pregnancy — or even an uncomplicated one for that matter.
Consumer protection. While the great fire hose emits its inundation of noise about all things Trumpian, consumer protections enacted to prevent yet another Wall Street melt down are under attack. The student loan market is being “deregulated.” Not a good thing. The smaller issues involved in the Dodd Frank Act have been resolved with some bipartisan legislation, but the administration wants to go further — and the assortment of Goldman Sachs alums in the administration are being ever so helpful in this regard. Left unchecked we’re going to see another round of de-regulation, which didn’t work out so well for us the last time. Caveat Emptor American consumer — be careful before voting for any candidate who vows to cut red tape and diminish the “burdens” of regulations — like those preventing the next melt down in the Wall Street Casino.
It’s the Stupid Economy. Yes. Wall Street has been doing quite nicely thank you very much. I maintain my position that the worst business news is readily available on most broadcast networks. If a person believes that the DJIA represents the state of the American economy then they’re in for more surprises like the ones which emerged in 2007-08. Information like real median household income trends is available from FRED, but before we get too excited note median household income numbers may be obscuring other figures like wages adjusted for inflation for full time employees. Further, what’s being added in to the mix as “income?” All income includes everything from unemployment benefits to returns on investments. It’s those returns on investments that have made some very nice progress over the last ten years…wages maybe not so much. We’re on our own to dive more deeply into the wage issues and income distribution data. There’s some good news, some bad news, and some news to think about like the 16 straight quarters we’ve had of increasing domestic household debt. So, it’s time for the question: Are we seeing candidates for Congress who acknowledge the need for common sense controls on Wall Street casino operations? Who are aware and concerned for wage and salary workers and their economic security? Are we getting more noise from the highly generalized pie in the sky theoretical visionaries who want us to believe that those with great wealth are going to buy all the homes, cars, washing machines, shoes, movie tickets, and restaurant meals necessary to keep the US economy rolling on?
I could use a little more light on these subjects, and perhaps a bit less bump in the night stuff about a “crisis on the border” (manufactured by the current administration) or “The Press Is Out To Get Me,” from Orange Blossom. And, I’m looking for Congressional and Senate Candidates who will speak to me about how to fix problems, rather than shout at me about how to fix the blame for them. I’d like for political discourse to make more sense than noise.