Tag Archives: Politics

Republican politicians are taking their masks off for Donald Trump

mask-1641264_1920This is a frightening time. Having only been president for a few days, Donald Trump has turned bigotry into policy and attacked basic tenets of American democracy. Even more frightening, many respected Republican politicians are supporting and enabling President Trump, and dropping their masks of respectability in the process. The Trump agenda is not possible without collaborators in Congress, which is why it is terrifying to see what these politicians look like without their masks.

In case this sounds overblown, let’s do a brief and highly abridged recap of the Trump administration so far. President Trump has begun to implement the Muslim ban he promised during the campaign by banning immigration from several countries. President Trump’s government has denied immigrants access to legal counsel in defiance of court orders, and pressured some to sign away their Green Cards. The Trump family has brazenly used the Office of the President for personal profit. President Trump has elevated white nationalist Steve Bannon to a position of enormous power in domestic policy, and given Bannon an unprecedented role for a political advisor in national security. And there is much more.

Many Republican politicians are vocal supporters of President Trump’s early actions. Many more are content to let Trump do what he wants if it helps them maintain power. A few Republicans have stood up to Trump, and they should be commended.

None of this should be forgotten. The politicians enabling President Trump are as much of a threat to American democracy as Trump himself. They do not belong near positions of power. Thanks to Trump, we know who they are.

No politician wore his mask better than Paul Ryan. But not anymore. Paul Ryan supports Trump’s anti-immigrant executive order. Paul Ryan shows no interest in Trump’s kleptocracy. Paul Ryan even embraces Steve Bannon. While some have accused Ryan of lacking the courage to stand up to Trump, Jonathan Chait argues persuasively that Ryan is in fact standing for his highest principle. It’s just that Ryan’s highest principle is to reduce taxes for the wealthy, in exchange for which Ryan is willing to accept the ugliest parts of Trump’s agenda. Whatever the reason, Paul Ryan is taking off his mask for President Trump.

When President Trump loses, and I think he will, his enablers cannot be allowed to put their masks back on as if nothing happened. If Paul Ryan has something to say about politics, he can go write for Breitbart where he belongs.


Generals and Presidents

Americans seem to have a kind of Roman relationship with our military leaders. America’s three most important wars are probably the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War II. In all three cases, the commanding general was subsequently elected as a two term president (Washington, Grant, and Eisenhower). Continue reading

Why Not About Quality?

The title honors the most honest statement ever made by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). On Thursday, February 3, 2011, Senator Paul made the following statement about his own amendment on the Senate floor:

“Mr. President, this amendment is not about quality.”

Indeed, the amendment was not about quality. It exempted contractors for FAA projects from requirements to pay workers the prevailing wage in their area (known as Davis-Bacon rules). Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) opposed the amendment with studies showing that contractors who pay prevailing wages deliver better work. That argument wasn’t persuasive to Senator Paul, since after all, this is not about quality.

For too many politicians, public policy is not about quality. Legislation is written to support talking points, instead of writing talking points to support legislation. Budgets are debated as if they are just numbers on a page, without examining whether the programs next to those numbers are worthwhile or not. Making government work better doesn’t interest Senator Paul and his fellow travelers, because government is inherently bad, and this is not about quality.

But it should be about quality. Getting public policy right determines whether we are assured a dignified retirement with Social Security and Medicare, whether our schools give all children an honest shot at the American Dream, and whether our military can defend us at home and secure our interests around the world. It’s not enough to say “Support the troops.” If those troops and veterans are going to get the health care they earned, it really matters whether the military and VA can ever figure out how to make their health record systems talk to each other (they can’t now).

This blog aspires to be about quality, despite the title’s suggestion to the contrary. Which policies are working, which are not, and how do we make it better?

Also, every so often I’ll complain about the Redskins.