That Was The Week That Was
To finish up the week, the BLAST is going to borrow motifs from the 1960s that should provide a useful framework for our Friday observations. First and foremost, we will join Mr. Peabody and his boy, Sherman, in their Wayback Machine (check out the brilliant Rocky & Bullwinkle show) to use the 1964-65 weekly NBC satire program, That Was the Week That Was, hosted by David Frost and Henry Morgan, featuring Buck Henry & Alan Alda. Contributing writers to the program included Gloria Steinem, Calvin Trillin, & Tom Lehrer (so you can see the left-leaning satiric slant, right?). As we review the past week we will use another 1960’s icon, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 to provide a system for analyzing and evaluating how the week went for our Fabulist-in-Chief. If, somehow, you are unfamiliar with Catch-22, the novel, you might recognize it as a common phrase that represents any unsolvable logic puzzle or double bind. For example, if you lose your glasses, you can’t look for them because you can’t see --- a Catch-22. (see Wikipedia for more). For our purposes here, we are going to focus on a particular character in the novel, the base commander, Colonel Cathcart. As described in the Wikipedia summary:
A full colonel, he is a group commander at a U.S. Army Air Corps base in Pianosa and is obsessed with becoming a general. As such, he does whatever it takes to please his superiors
In order to please those superiors, “Cathcart nightly makes lists of ‘feathers in his cap’ and ‘black eyes’, often finding something in the former category is in fact in the latter one, considering all the possible ways in which his superiors could react to them.” (Wikipedia) So, our TW3 will take a look at four events from the past week to see how (so-called) President Trump might “score” things (“feathers” or “black eyes”) and how we (meaning “I”) might “score” them.
#1. Health Care Bill
The President, on March 7th, tweeted: “Our wonderful new Healthcare Bill is now out for review and negotiation. ObamaCare is a complete and total disaster - is imploding fast!” The reality, of course, is that the AMA, hospitals, insurers, senior citizens and some Conservative Republicans have all come out against what is being labeled “Ryancare” or “Trumpcare,” depending on who is peddling this turkey. With the exception of those Republicans who wish to see Obamacare repealed no matter what and honestly don’t really care if poor people lose their insurance (count Paul Ryan among those, btw), almost no one sees this bill as viable. Senate Republicans have essentially said it’s “dead in the water” as it currently stands but that hasn’t moved the President away from supporting it in his own odd way. While the President might not give himself a “feather in his cap” for this disaster, he certainly won’t agree with our Black Eye rating.
#2: The Wire Tapp
Despite the House Committee, the Intelligence Agencies, and every sane person in the Western Hemisphere claiming the President’s charges that he and Trump Tower had been “wiretapped” by Barack Obama and his administration, the President, through Sean Spicer, using classic Catch-22 circular logic, continued to defend the allegations (even though he/Spicer seemed to be contradicting it!). What we learned from Trump’s interview with Tucker Carlson this week is that the President, by his own admission, got his information from a Brett Baier report on FoxNews! This whole notion that a FISA warrant had been issued for surveillance on Trump Tower, according to Baier, came from:
a RealClearPolitics write-up of the public reporting that had been compiled the night before by Mark Levin. It was listing all of the things that had been publicly reported by different news organizations. He compiled it in a talk show and he’s talked about that, RealClearPolitics summarized it. (MediaMatters, 03/16)
So, Brett Baier, exacting journalist that he is, found a RealClearPolitics summary of reporting compiled by well-known right wing(nut) commentator, Mark Levin. The House Committee & the intelligence agencies confirmed that NO such FISA warrant had ever been issued. Sorry, Mr. Levin. The President, of course, is still holding out hope for a “Feather” but we know better: Black Eye.
#3. The Budget
In what can only be described as draconian, the Trump budget will probably not survive as it was presented yesterday. As noted in Paul Krugman’s column in today’s NYTimes, “fiscal expert Stan Collender (said) ‘This is not a budget. It’s a Trump campaign press release masquerading as a government document.” (03/17) What is most telling, of course, is how the budget will hurt millions of Trump’s supporters and how it has no impact on the national debt or deficit (prime conservative Republican concerns). While not touching Medicare and Social Security (40% of federal expenditures), this “budget proposal” increases the Defense Department by $54 billion while dramatically slashing almost everything else. This proposal decimates the EPA, eliminates the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as well as the Endowments for the Arts & Humanities, while also slashing Health & Human Services by 16%, Education by 13.5%, the EPA by 31.4%, STATE by 28.7%, Labor by 20.7%, Agriculture by 20.7%, Commerce by 15.7%, Interior by 11.7% and Transportation by 12.7%. There is no mention of the promised infrastructure programs (Budget Director Mulvaney says that will be dealt with “later”) and, combined with the HealthCare debacle, this budget promises a retreat on the environment, education, housing, and many other services (like Meals on Wheels) that millions of Americans rely on. The President, of course, believes this is a BIGLY “feather" but we know: Black Eye.
#4. Mike Flynn
Well, former national security advisor, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn is the gift that just keeps giving. Because of all the other Black Eye news of the week, you may not have seen the latest revelations about General Flynn --- much of which could become a full-blown scandal for the administration, even though they are trying to soft-pedal it. The Healthcare, Budget, and Wire Tapp news have been dominating the headlines this week but if we look below the fold there are shocking revelations about the Trump security advisor and confidant. The fact that he was in the employ of the Turkish government while serving in the Trump campaign may end up being the least of General Flynn’s problems. We have now learned that Russian “entities” paid the General. His biggest payday came from RT, the Russian television network that is Putin’s modern Pravda. Beyond that we learned “Flynn was also paid $11,250 that year (2015) by the U.S. subsidiary of a Russian cybersecurity firm, Kaspersky Lab, and another $11,250 by a U.S. air cargo company affiliated with the Volga-Dnepr Group, which is owned by a Russian businessman. “ Well, well, well --- a cybersecurity firm and a Russian businessman (who, btw, made millions b/c Putin gave him a sweetheart deal when Russia landed the Sochi Olympics). Flynn’s antics get murkier and murkier the deeper we look into them. The President has been mum about this but it’s obvious this is two or more Black Eyes!
So, that was the week that was for our Imagineer-in-Chief and, of course, I have a bit of a bias but if you can show me how this HealthCare “reform” benefits the poor and middle class (while providing HUGE tax breaks for the wealthy), and how this budget helps the poor, the lame, the elderly and the infirm, and if you can provide evidence (beyond Brett Baier & Mark Levin) that our previous President committed a felony, as well as how this administration is not knee-deep or more in collusion with Russia, then I’ll gladly apologize and don one of those “MAGA” caps at the next “campaign rally” the Chief Prevaricator holds.