One Day in America—This Is Not Normal
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One Day in America—This Is Not Normal

‘Chaos Instead of Government, Bragging Instead of Empathy, Slogans Instead of Thoughts’

How absurd (and depressing) a time are we in? This is yesterday, just one day, on television—other than a tornado in the Midwest, not even an especially bad day. No millions lost healthcare, or got shot at or got trapped in a faraway location. The images are of our institutions at work, a day in the life of the leader of the Free World.

This is a picture of chaos rather than government, bragging rather than empathy, slogans rather than nuanced thought.

There is no question about the effects this kind of day, repeating now for a year, has on our society’s sense of normal, our sense of reality, our sense of plain old fatigue. If there were an image of the destruction left behind in my psyche, I’m sure it would be frightening. Maybe you are faring better. It is definitely why people are just turning away.

One day:

  • Trump, in criticizing a deputy sheriff in the fatal Parkland high school shooting for hanging back as shooting went on, said that even if he, Trump, had no weapon he would have rushed into the building. “I really believe I’d run in even if I didn’t have a weapon,” said Trump who ducked military service five times for a bone spur in his foot.
  • In Florida, meanwhile, the deputy’s lawyer said his client had followed departmental procedures. It all just makes a mockery of the idea of training and arming teachers. Meanwhile, that county sheriff was trying to defend himself from charges that his department did not properly follow up on reports about the shooter and also looking into reports that other deputies hung back from engaging the shooter as well.
  • The president told the nation’s governors that he was in a listening mode on guns, but wants immediate action; then he told them that he had lunched yesterday with leaders of the National Rifle Association who oppose raising the minimum age for purchase of assault-style rifles. Then one governor told him that he should be doing more listening and less tweeting.
  • The president said the nation’s problem is that it got rid of mental institutions into which we could easily chuck any potential gun suspect who is “sick.” Oh yeah, and we should take guns away from “sickos,” but not from law-abiding citizens. You know the difference, right?
  • One cable station said its reporters could not find a teacher in favor of arming selected school staff with concealed handguns in order “to harden schools” against shooters. It also totaled costs for arming and training selected teachers at between a half-billion and a billion dollars.
  • From the Congress, there a number of members who question whether there are any votes even for baby steps to limit gun purchases. The House apparently has decided to do nothing unless the Senate acts and finds 60 votes to approve any legislation. The president, meanwhile, says he will order anti-bump stocks rules regardless.
  • A White House spokesman rebuked the Supreme Court for deciding to allow normal court appeals processes to continue, in effect extending the law protecting Dreamers, those undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals law.
  • Economists were warning that promises aside, White House prophecies of sustained 3 percent growth are hopes at best. And JPMorgan’s forecasts were showing that fully 43% of those huge corporate tax breaks are being spent on buying back stock, another 19% on dividends, 17% on capital investment that might lead to more jobs and 13% on any bonuses or even raises for workers.
  • MSNBC was trumpeting a video interview with Ivanka Trump in South Korea, in which she was perfectly comfortable representing the United States and the White House as a diplomat, but uncomfortable—she said she found the question objectionable—as to whether she believes women accusing her father of unwanted sexual advances. She also said that she and her husband, Jared Kushner, should be treated like anyone else under review for a permanent security clearance to continue working in the White House after a year without formal status to see classified information.
  • After meeting with Ivanka Trump, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said the United States must “lower its bar for dialogue” and North Korea must signal that denuclearization is on the agenda, trying to keep the momentum going in an Olympics-inspired detente.
  • On Fox TV, a panelist outlined a plan to sell California to Mexico for enough money to give a tax holiday for the rest of the country. All this was because the Oakland mayor let residents know that Immigration and Customs Enforcement teams are scheduling raids in the city, warning undocumented immigrants.
  • The White House thinks events in Syria are awful after new reports of chemical-weapons use on civilian populations in Ghouta in the eastern part of the country, but hasn’t decided what to do about it, according to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the press secretary.
  • Television pundits continued to guess at directions in the special counsel investigation of all-things-Russia without new information. Meanwhile, the White House continued to distance the Trump campaign and the candidate from any of the newly indicted individuals, including Rick Gates, a deputy campaign head, in the special counsel investigation.
  • Cable television was still fixated on the weekend Conservative PAC meetings at which a leader basically disowned former Republican chairman Michael Steele, saying that he had gotten his job only because he was black, and drumming out a speaker who reminded the group of a moral responsibility to believe women who find the courage to out sexual harassment in their past, even if the harasser is Trump. The weekend was widely hailed as a political coronation of the worship of Trump over the principles of conservativism.

It is a good thing that Spring Training has begun.

February 27, 2018