The bases, the “Jell-O” president, and a 32-year-old twerp shut down the government

So for now it’s over. Back to work, all yea federal government workers!

Here is a pretty concise explanation of things in Washington these days from Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana: “Our country was founded by geniuses, but it’s being run by idiots.”

The January 2018 shutdown of the federal government may be over, but given the climate that exists in national politics, governance problems are far from being solved. Things are pretty screwed up and there is not a lot of reason to think that it will get better any time in the near future.

There are many, many issues, and for sure, they are very complicated: approving three-week budgets; DACA and other immigration issues; the children’s health program; community health centers; funding for disaster relief; and the extension of the federal debt limit, which is right around the corner. Undoubtedly these are issues that would also boggle the minds of the “geniuses” who founded the country.

An important difference between the founders and the current president and members of Congress, however, is a lack of willingness to compromise. It was easier for the founders to compromise because parties hadn’t yet come into existence, which of course meant that party bases also did not exist.

Ah, the bases. The extreme portions of both parties, both dedicated to their own exclusive principles, and both sure they are right in all things. Both bases abhor compromise as a sell-out.

The thing is, as the expression goes, elections have consequences. This means when one party wins an election their base gets to tag along. It also means that that base, however small in numbers it may be, often winds up with some outsized power.

The base that belongs to the governing party assumes that they are entitled to dictate policy and legislation. The problem is that the majority of the majority might not buy into extreme positions.

The base that belongs to the party in the legislative minority, on the other hand, has difficult issues too. They also think that they are entitled to dictate policy and legislation, but the minority party base has two problems: (1) the majority of the minority might not buy into extreme positions; and (2) they do not have enough votes to do anything unless the majority party allows them to do it. In the Senate, the Democratic base at the moment needs to understand that 49 is less than 51. In the House, the Democratic bases needs to understand that 194 is less than 218. Not in the majority? Deal with it.

As the January 2018 shutdown came to an end there were hard feelings all around in both bases. Republican far-righters are ticked off about any concession to Democrats. Democratic far-lefters see any movement toward the center as treason, their position being that getting nothing and standing on principle is better than getting something.

Like it or not, the something in the recent deal was a six year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). That is something, the pundits tell us, that everyone supports. The program ended last September and the congressional majority held nine million children and their families hostage ever since – a shameful and cynical act. But politics ain’t beanbag.

Pretty much standing on the sidelines through most of the past few days, except for a few tweets, was President Jell-O. “Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-O,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer complained. “It’s next to impossible.” President Snowflake (a better nickname) evidently spent the weekend brooding in Washington about missing his celebratory gala at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump is more than useless because he keeps gumming up anything that is going on. His positions change by the hour, often controlled by the crew of “Fox and Friends.” Even Senate Leader Mitch McConnell was complaining last week, noting “I’m looking for something that President Trump supports, and he’s not yet indicated what measure he’s willing to sign.”

Trump continues to promote the idea that the Senate should invoke the “nuclear option” by changing their rules to eliminate the filibuster option, allowing legislation to be approved by a simple 51 vote majority. That procedure has already been changed for judicial, cabinet and sub-cabinet confirmation votes. Such a move would turn the Senate into just a smaller version of the House of Representatives with longer terms in office. It’s the type of “reform” that would sooner or later allow a Democratic president and Congress to get things taken care of expeditiously.

Finally, the last monkey wrench in the whole messed up picture comes from the 32-year-old twerp who controls Trump’s mind, alt-righter Stephen Miller. Senator Lindsay Graham notes that “every time we have a proposal it is only yanked back by staff members. As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we’re going nowhere.”

Miller is noteworthy for having been recently escorted off the set of a Sunday talk show by security officers when he went into a rage. And who can forget Miller at a White House press briefing early in 2017 when he uttered the immortal words, “the president’s authority will not be questioned.”

So there we have it at the moment. Another three week extension of the federal budget, that will be followed the same sort of theatrics, likely followed by another short extension of the budget; and then possibly another and another. The upcoming extension of the debt ceiling debate should be a real show stopper.

As a former participant and longtime observer of politics, I totally get the idea that people can get worked up about positions they believe in. That doesn’t, however, make the world go round. Compromise is difficult and boring and essential.

It’s very hard to imagine any long-term solutions to the problems the country faces while Donald Trump is president. A man who is wishy-washy, believes in nothing but himself, is not too bright, lacks any attention span, and who is surrounded by extremist advisors is doomed to failure.

So in the meantime, we should concentrate attention on more manageable matters, such as control of the House of Representatives. Gee, there is a congressman right here in Western New York who seems to keep stepping in doo-doo and who needs some attention.

Follow me on Twitter @kenkruly

5 thoughts on “The bases, the “Jell-O” president, and a 32-year-old twerp shut down the government

  1. Ken,
    You are a smart guy. Your constant insults and personal attacks on Trump do not reflect that fact.
    To say Trump is controlled by Steven Miller is farcical to the extreme. Morning Joe constantly bemoaned that Trump was a puppet of Steve Bannon. How is that working these days?
    Does it bother you at all that 95% of Sen. Shumer’s comments about President Trump are personal insults.
    Jello, Dysfunctional, Incompetent, Brainless, Heartless. Really, Ken? This is Shumer’s way to govern?
    Ok, Trump calls the Senator Cryin’ Chuck. Not exactly a nasty invective.
    Here’s an idea: how about an idea? Offer something other than “I hate Trump”.
    Building a wall to secure the border is not unreasonable. DACA should be easy to do if all parties are reasonable. We both know that the Left wants open borders and unrestricted if not unlimited immigration. That’s not reasonable given the promises Trump made during his campaign. He won on securing the border and tightening up immigration.
    I didn’t see reasonable in your remarks. I saw insult, consternation and arrogance.
    Not exactly the ingredients for thoughtful governing. Get off the Hate Trump High Horse and offer some thoughtful policy alternatives. Your readers, including me, will thank you.
    Best regards,
    Russ Gugino

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  2. Thanks for offering your thoughts Russ. Obviously we have a serious disagreement here. I am comfortable with the observations I noted in the blog. I consider Donald Trump to be a disaster for the country and the world.

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  3. I realize we disagree about Trump. No problem. It’s America. To each his own.
    My point is why all the ad hominem and so little offering and defending alternatives to what Trump proposes?
    Excuse me but RESISTANCE is not an agenda for governing. We had an election on whether to have “a Wall”. To paraphrase what Barack Obama said to John McCain at Blair House :
    “The campaign is over, John. I won.” Well, the Wall won.
    Can we at least have a dialogue about ideas? Happy you listen and comment on whatever you have to propose. You do the same. Deal? Thanks, Godspeed, Russ Gugino

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  4. Your analysis is well-informed and cogent but more than a little too optimistic.

    The pervert rule, named for a disgraced Speaker of the House, mandates that only if a majority of the Majority are for it will any measure be brought to the floor. I call it the prevert rule because it totally perverts democratic legislative procedure, corrupting the ends expressed in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. It makes compromise impossible. This rule should be found to be unconstitutional if there were a possibility of judicial review of it, but alas the constitution provides that “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, . . .” and House rules dictate the the Speaker determine what comes to the floor.

    The billionaires’ tool house will never be “. . . just a smaller version of the House . . .” because it was designed to limit democracy. The House itself is limited by the discrepancy between Wyoming’s and California’s representation. One person, one vote is impossible there. But the Senate is designed so that the one-tenth of one percent can buy a majority and control the whole legislative process.

    Congress vs FBI is really scary. The republicans in committee chairs are attempting to undermine our justice department. They are subverting the Preamblan goal of establishing justice. They are colluding with the president to dilute American democracy. Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler, to name just a few of the most egregious, started out just like this. Sending DACA people to countries whose cultures are foreign to them and whose language they may not understand is a blantant perversion of justice.

    I fear that it is going to get much worse and that it will take generations and floods of blood before it gets any better. Good luck with defeating Chris Collins.

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  5. Trump won three swing states, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan by a total of around 78 thousand votes. These areas were bombarded with anti Clinton and pro Jill Stein propaganda on social media “bots” my Russians in the millions. Milwaukee, which is highly Democratic was flooded with propaganda aimed at discouraging the black vote. Can anyone say with a straight face that a measly 78 thousand souls were not swayed by Russian interference? And over a year later the Trump administration has done nothing, nothing to ensure this never happens again to our elections. This is an outrage to my mind equal to the United States doing nothing after Pearl Harbor. To make matters worse Trump and his minions have taken to vilifying our FBI and intelligence agencies.
    This guy is as anti American as you can get, mostly to save his own ass. I just hope house Republicans do the right thing when given overwhelming evidence from the special counsel.

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