Bop Bag Politics

Our president is basically a human bop bag. If he gets knocked down he pretends it is due to his magnanimity as a leader (an emotion he does not possess) and then he just pops back up. This bop bag toy works as a symbol for a lot of politicians; but it may just be the quintessential symbol for Donald Trump, not just as a politician but also as a businessman.

Ending the shutdown is a victory for many Americans who spoke up about the everyday repercussions of working without pay; a victory over a president’s empty words about one-sided loyalty. Nancy Pelosi probably never intended to gloat. She used the power of her office, which she understands completely, and the power of the Constitution, to help put an end to the shutdown. The only extraordinary thing about it is the skill with which she wields the gavel. Gloating does not have good outcomes given Trump’s pathologies. He hates losing and will stubbornly hold his ground.

It is entirely possible that Trump only decided to end the shutdown for three weeks so he could give his State of the Union address in the House chambers amidst the pomp and spectacle of regular order in these times that are anything but regular.

However Trump could have decided to do the authoritarian thing and force his way into the House chambers and he didn’t. Perhaps he realized how quickly opposition might escalate if he used that play from the authoritarian playbook at this particular moment, if he sidelined a Congress that now shows some promise of offering the checks and balances that signal a healthy democracy/republic. Don’t be too comforted; this play is still available for future use.

In the Rose Garden he made a formal announcement of a temporary (3 week end) to the government shutdown but he did not back down at all from his insistence on the necessity for a wall on our southern border.

“Trump’s quest for at least some portion of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is not over, however. Friday’s agreement only temporarily reopens the government, providing a three-week period for Congress to negotiate a longer-term spending agreement. The president said he would continue advocating for his signature campaign promise and threatened to again shut down the government or declare a national emergency to use his unilateral powers to build the wall if Congress does not appropriate funding for it by Feb. 15.

‘Let me be very clear: We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” Trump said Friday. He also tweeted in the evening that his decision “was in no way a concession.’”

He does seem, however, to be willing to accept pieces of wall as opposed to sea to sea wall. He also seems willing to accept a steel barrier rather than a monumental medieval concrete wall that can be seen from space. (Although perhaps with his push to get to Mars while he is still President, he will have to leave some kind of monument that will be visible from space.)

So the bop bag we call Donald Trump is now back in the upright position. What will happen next? Will it be some money for barriers and will Nancy Pelosi and her Dem peeps accept a bit of defeat gracefully? Will it be the declaration of a National Emergency, which promises to damage our constitutional democracy “bigly”? Will it be another shutdown after Trump gets to deliver his SOTU address?

What can the president possibly say in his SOTU address that anyone but loyal Republicans will want to listen to? We have not yet reached the point where Americans can be forced to watch the address. Someone will tell us what he said after the fact. If you are a person who sees through this man you will probably have to tune out the SOTU address to save your TV from mayhem. Perhaps you could order a bop bag to take your frustrations out on. Remember also that a bop bag can be put down permanently; all you have to do is take the hot air out of it.

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Bouncing Back

For the second time I thought that Obama won. Obama,
in customary fashion,  did not take
either opportunity as a chance to gloat. He sees how “sensitive” the
Republicans are right now to any imagined slight. Obama allowed them to act
like they won; they gloated and they have apparently decided to pretend that,
once again, they did not lose.

Obama, since he won, since there was no default,
since the Affordable Care Act was not overturned, assumes that he can try to
pass another of his agenda items, as any winning politician would believe. He
plans to try to get a pass in Congress (both houses) for the Immigration Bill.
I have not heard Republicans say one word about the Immigration Bill. They are
still fixated on the ACA. That and scaling back the social safety net are all
they want to talk about. They are as focused and as cocky as they were before
they “let” the government open and the debt ceiling rise. We all hear all the time about what Republicans want. We can almost repeat it like a rosary. On the other hand, we hear very little about what Democrats want. We know they want gun control which the Republicans are rabidly against. We know the Democrats want an Immigration Bill but the Republicans really cannot accept that either although their reasons are a bit (to use a GOP term) squishy. As for other programs that will help the middle class, these programs have not even been organized into the form of bills.

The GOP is polishing off its old budget demands,
getting ready to go shaft the American people and make that smaller government
happen that they have been craving. I am not against a tighter budget, but I
would never trash the social safety net to make that happen. If we want health
insurance, Republicans argue, we will have to give up SNAP or Medicare or, and,
this is the one they seem to really have in their sights, Social Security. It
all makes us crazy. They are indomitable, indestructible; they are like that
child size rubber toy with sand in the bottom. You knock it over and it pops
right back up with the same goofy expression on its face. Of course, if you
poke a hole in the toy it will deflate; not so with these persistent

So I guess the thing I don’t get is why every time
we, the Democrats, seem to win, it still feels as if we lost! We are still
considering the items on the Republican agenda and they have made it very
clear, even after capitulating temporarily that job creation, infrastructure
improvement, stimulus, and renewable energy are still as far off the table as
they have ever been, even though these goals have been important to Americans
for the last five years and even though these goals are part of the reason we
elected President Obama. He probably cannot even accomplish his goal of
universal Pre-K which would help us to be globally competitive.

I am betting that we will see the same
obstructionist behavior we have seen since 2008. I am betting the Democrats
will still be thwarted by things like the Hastert Rule in the House (it doesn’t
matter how Mr. Hastert intended it to be used) and the “fake” filibuster rule,
the 60 vote rule in the Senate. Yes we are in debt, but every strategy the GOP
has employed has seemed to slow down the economy. The GOP is costing the
American taxpayers money and making us pay for their vendetta against Obama and
the Democrats. I hope it will be different and that Republicans will find a
little humility and a spirit of compromise, that they will stop stonewalling
and allow the Democrats to win a few, rather unimportant points, but I expect
that we will continue to encounter their anger, their sense of entitlement and
their unabated arrogance.

The only thing that will help Obama and the
Democrats achieve any of their agenda is to elect Democrats in 2014 (which
cannot come fast enough).

This is the view from the cheap seats.

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