Sunday, July 16, 2017

Cultural Implosion?

Okay, so I couldn't stay away.  Too much going on.  Too many things to comment on.

Like everyone I've been watching the latest revelations about the Trump campaign meetings with the Russian lawyer.  At first I (like many) thought it was probably much ado about nothing.  Then I thought it was just the kid making a pretty big screw up.  And then as more details dripped out (memo to politicians...get it all out fast.  Bad news doesn't get better with age) it became obvious that there was at least an attitude that if we can get dirt on Hillary by any means, even from a foreign government, then that's okay.  Well...that's not okay.  In fact it's a pretty big not okay.

And here's what happens when a screw up this blatant comes to light.  At least for me it's what happens.  I start to look at other things and question other things.  For a long time now Trump has been touting accomplishments, statistics, that he's making America great again, blah, blah, blah.  And it's obviously a lot of bullshit.  I mean, there are some good things that have occurred, but I don't remotely believe that there have been dramatic accomplishments and turnarounds.  And I don't think many others believe that either.  Trump's credibility is wearing thin.  Simple as that.  After six months it seems that he believes that if he says it, it must be believed.  There are a hard-core of supporters who will believe him because they hate the other side.  But I think the country is still mostly in the middle.  And they will only believe so much.  There is a good blog article in National Review this week by Jonah Goldberg, a pretty serious and smart writer who is no liberal, who lays it out pretty well.  You can read it here.  Here's my favorite bottom line quote:
"Trump’s more-credible defenders certainly may be right that this is all the result of ineptitude and amateurishness. These guys are like a mix between Ron Jeremy and a yoga master in their ability to step on their own johnsons."
There is another piece that you should check out from Frank Bruni of the NYT.  I know, I know...NYT.  But I find Frank to be among the few writers in the MSM who I can usually find something to agree with.  Check out his article about "Six Long Months of President Trump" here.  I don't agree with much in the article but I think he does point out how corrosive we've all become.  And a large part of the blame lies at Trump's feet.  There is little doubt about that.

And it you look at Congress, you're just nothing but depressed.  They can get nothing done.  They aren't interested in compromise and accomplishments for the people.  They only have self-interest.  They mostly just spout platitudes and bullshit.  They can't fix a broken health care system for poor people because they are too self-absorbed.  This even when both sides say a fix is needed.  If they can't do this, can they ever get to tax reform, which is so much more important for the country as a whole?  I'm having my doubts.  And I think most people think the same thing.  So both the Executive branch and the Legislative branch are severely broken.  Severely.

A third article caught my attention this week.  Jamie Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan offered some really honest comments at an earnings call and WSJ had a short writeup about it.  I'm going to paste the whole thing because it's short and pretty good.  And it hits the nail on the head.
Jamie Dimon Goes Off
The J.P. Morgan CEO savages Washington’s anti-growth culture.By The Editorial Board
Jamie Dimon sure knows how to liven up an earnings call. While reporting quarterly results on Friday, the J.P. Morgan Chase CEO let loose with a high-quality harangue against the political class and Washington gridlock that drives down economic growth and hurts the people at the bottom of the income ladder.
“Since the Great Recession, which is now eight years old, we’ve been growing at 1.5% to 2% in spite of stupidity and political gridlock,” said the dean of Wall Street CEOs, who was just warming up. “We are unable to build bridges, we’re unable to build airports, our inner city school kids are not graduating.”
“I was just in France, I was recently in Argentina, I was in Israel, I was in Ireland. We met with the prime minister of India and China. It’s amazing to me that every single one of those countries understands that practical policies to promote business and growth is good for the average citizens of those countries, for jobs and wages, and that somehow this great American free enterprise system, we no longer get it.”
The banker who was once a target of Obama regulators must feel liberated because he even dared to defend tax cuts for business: “Corporate taxation is critical to that, by the way. We’ve been driving capital earnings overseas, which is why there’s $2 trillion overseas benefiting all these other countries and stuff like that. So if we don’t get our act together—we can still grow.”
Tell us how you really feel, Jamie: “I don’t buy the argument that we’re relegated to this forever. We’re not. If this administration can make breakthroughs in taxes and infrastructure, regulatory reform—we have become one of the most bureaucratic, confusing, litigious societies on the planet.
“It’s almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid s— we have to deal with in this country. And at one point we all have to get our act together or we won’t do what we’re supposed to [do] for the average Americans.
“And unfortunately people write about this saying like it’s for corporations. It’s not for corporations. Competitive taxes are important for business and business growth, which is important for jobs and wage growth. And honestly we should be ringing that alarm bell, every single one of you, every time you talk to a client.”
Mr. Dimon has said he’s a Democrat, and some of his friends say he might be looking to run for President. If Republicans can’t rally the nerve to pass their agenda, he might find a receptive constituency.
So as I look around there is huge reason for despair.  But here's the bottom line for me.  Even with the craziness, even with the corruption and hyper-partisanship, even with the lack of progress, there are reasons for optimism.  I think Trump has done pretty well on the international front.  That is an area fraught with danger, but so far he's doing okay.  I see some flashes of brilliance in his actions.  So far those things have been obscured by some crazy tweet or outlandish claim.  If he can steady the ship, then maybe he's got a chance to accomplish some things.  I don't necessarily think he will do that, but one can always hope.  His Supreme Court appointment was great and there's reason to believe that future appointments will be as well.

And the real, incredibly important bottom-line.  Hillary the criminal is not President.
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