Monday, September 4, 2017

President Strangelove: “Have a good time, everybody!”

Labor Day is always bittersweet. The holiday marks the last day of mental summer and the first day of practical autumn. We always started school the day after Labor Day, so after that last day at the beach club with the smell of sand and surf, we faced that seductive aroma of new crayons, freshly sharpened pencils, and a new leather briefcase...or, when we were a little older, thick rubber straps with hooks that would take your eye out if you weren't careful. We didn't know from childproof anything. No car seats, no seat belts, cement playgrounds with monkey bars. Yeah, we broke a few bones here and there, but nothing we couldn't grow back. 

I don't know if it's because the High Holy Days of the Jewish new year usually fall in September, or it's the start of the academic new year, but whatever the reason, I really do think of this as the head of the year. All things are possible in September. 

Not all possible things, however, are good things to be possible.

During those years  I was sharpening pencils and sniffing crayons, I was also mastering duck-and-cover in case of nuclear attack. We absolutely believed our hallways and desks would protect us from nuclear exposure. Yep-a-roo, we sure did. All we had to do was get down on our knees and tuck into a ball and we would be safe. 

Well, 58 years later, we're not so safe. US Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley addressed the Security Council today, Labor Day, saying:
Kim Jong-Un’s action cannot be seen as defensive. He wants to be acknowledged as a nuclear power. But being a nuclear power is not about using those terrible weapons to threaten others. Nuclear powers understand their responsibilities. Kim Jong-Un shows no such understanding.
His abusive use of missiles, and his nuclear threats show that he is begging for war. War is never something the United States wants. We don’t want it now. But our country’s patience is not unlimited. We will defend our allies and our territory.
The idea that some have suggested of a so-called freeze-for-freeze is insulting. When a rogue regime has a nuclear weapon and an ICBM pointed at you, you do not take steps to lower your guard. No one would do that. We certainly won’t.
The time has come to exhaust all diplomatic means to end this crisis, and that means quickly enacting the strongest possible measures here in the UN Security Council. Only the strongest sanctions will enable us to resolve this problem through diplomacy. We have kicked the can down the road long enough. There is no more road left.
I understand what she is saying. She may be closer to the mark than a lot of us want to believe. But what makes this terrifying is that we have a toddler-in-chief with access to nuclear launch codes. This guy is running this like a schoolyard bully. Fire and fury? Is he frickin' kidding us? 

At the same time he should be focused on North Korea, he also has domestic issues that required his attention. Houston is still under water, but he told reporters, after visiting a shelter, the people he saw were "pretty happy with what's going on." Really? As he went to hand out some boxes with hot dogs and chips, he said, 
There’s a lot of love. As tough as it’s been, it’s been a wonderful thing to watch....I’m going to do a little bit of help over here. Have a good time, everybody!
Meanwhile, chemical plants are burning, and this administration is rolling back more regulations. I checked with two of my chemical engineering buddies to see if any of the changes were involved in the Arkema fires. The answer was probably not at this time. In the end, it's all about risk management and it's unclear what process they had in place for floods. There are, at this time, too many questions and not enough answers forthcoming while even more people are evacuated due to excessive levels of air pollution. And then there's the matter of toxic waste sites that are now flooded...

But it's not that bad. After all, in India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh, where hurricanes hardly happen, but monsoons sure do,  the most recent has killed nearly 1,300 people and directly impacted the lives of 45 million. What are we complaining about? Our people are having a good time in the shelters. 

As if this wasn't enough for one weekend, the toddler-in-chief announced he's cancelling DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). This is the act, started in 2012, that protects illegal immigrants who were brought here as children. Those kids are called Dreamers for a reason: they dream of remaining here as citizens, unafraid and free.  Here is DACA by the numbers as prepared for NEWSWEEK  by Julia Glum:
 1. There are more than 43 million immigrants in the U.S., according to the Migration Policy Institute. 
2. About 11 million are undocumented immigrants.

3. An estimated 22 percent of undocumented immigrants are under age 25, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

4. The Migration Policy Institute said in 2016 that about 1.9 million people were eligible for DACA.

5. About 788,000 have had their requests for DACA status accepted, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

6. In order to apply for DACA, immigrants had to be younger than 31 on June 15, 2012.

7. They must have come to the U.S. before turning 16. They must have lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007.

8. In a Center for American Progress survey of roughly 3,000 DACA recipients, nine-tenths of respondents said they had jobs.

9. Their average hourly wage was $17.46 an hour, up from $10.29 before receiving DACA.

10. About 72 percent of respondents were in higher education.

11. After getting DACA, nearly 80 percent of respondents said they got driver's licenses. About half became organ donors.

12. A Morning Consult poll from April found that 56 percent of registered voters said Dreamers, another name for people who came to the U.S. as kids, "should be allowed to stay and become citizens if they meet certain requirements."

13. The Center for American Progress estimated that the U.S. would lose about $460 billion in GDP over the next 10 years without DACA.

14. About 700,000 people could lose their jobs.

15. More than 1,800 governors, attorneys general, mayors, state representatives, judges, police chiefs and other leaders signed onto a letter supporting Dreamers and DACA recipients.
Look closely at #13. A $460 billion dollar loss in GDP. I wonder how much revenue from federal income tax would be lost as well. Gotta be significant. That's 700,000 losing their jobs, so the question must be asked, who will replace them?

Listening to MPR yesterday, I heard some GOP flunky explain how all those DACA jobs would be filled by Americans who are looking for work. Sure they will. The same way they're gonna sign up to be field hands harvesting crops. 

Who will run the businesses started by DACA recipients? Or will the local governments just hand those over to Americans to run? (Where have we heard that before?) What will happen to the employers who counted on their DACA workers to be contributors to their companies? And the students whose teachers are DACA recipients? And the patients whose doctors are DACA kids? Has anyone bothered to think this through? 

Yeah, I know there's a six month waiting period before it goes into effect; however, when has this Congress accomplished any sort of meaningful legislation? They had 8 frickin' years to come up with an alternative to the ACA, and they couldn't even present an idea that sounded sane. Now they say they're gonna tackle the tax system, something in dire need of overhaul, and the first thing they come up with is taxing earnings destined for 401k's. What planet are these morons on? The planet without oxygen because obviously that supply to their brains has been cut off.

When you have an imperial North Korea or Venezuela or the United States these days, the president can do whatever he wants. The Founding Fathers, who must be spinning in their graves, set up a system of checks and balances for our government that are now being completely ignored. I'm having trouble figuring out which one of these disasters is the real one and which are the smoke screens. 

In Stanley Kubrick's brilliant satire, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, it's the Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper who is unhinged and starts the bomb rolling, not the president. Frankly, I think the movie should be required viewing for all of We, the People right about now. I have to wonder whether or not there really is a Plan R or a Russian Doomsday device. Right now, nothing would surprise me. 

Or, it could be North Korea thinks it's The Mouse That Roared. Kinda hard to tell at the moment. 

It's all so ridiculous that it's hard to believe any of this is real. This is not the way to run a country...unless you're a tin-pot dictator running a banana republic as your own personal money-laundering operation. Juan Peron had nuthin' on our toddler-in-chief. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Go find some pencils and sharpen them.
You'll feel better. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh, the timing. While surfing the cable channels Sunday, there it was: Dr. Strangelove. I hadn't seen it since the 60'S. Even in its dated B&W, I loved seeing it again with the twisted knowledge that I was living through a new Dr. Strangelove time.